Tissue Engineering is a multidisciplinary field that applies the principles of biology and engineering to develop tissue substitutes to restore, maintain, or improve the function of diseased or damaged human tissues. One approach for engineering tissue involves seeding biodegradable scaffolds with donor cells and/or growth factors, then culturing and implanting the scaffolds to induce and direct the growth of new, healthy tissue.
The need for bone substitutes is particularly important. Bone substitutes are often required to help repair or replace damaged or diseased tissues in cases ranging from trauma, to congenital and degenerative diseases, to cancer, to cosmetics. Our vision for creating tissue engineered bone is an advanced CAD/CAM (computer-aided-design/computer-aided-manufacturing) bioreactor system capable of growing large-scale, customized bone substitutes as depicted in the figure above. Our current research involves not only laying the foundation for several of the components required for realizing such an advanced system, but also gaining knowledge and developing components that will have clinical relevance in the nearer term.