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Promise of Adult Stem Cells for Generating Replacement Tissues is Explored in Tissue Engineering

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The progress made in identifying, understanding, and working with adult stem cells to harness their regenerative potential and grow functional human tissues in the laboratory is presented in a review of the promise and challenges of engineering living tissues, published online ahead of print in the November 2006 issue (Volume 12, Number 11) of Tissue Engineering, a journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The paper is available free online.

In a report entitled, "Ex Vivo Engineering of Living Tissues with Adult Stem Cells," Bonnie Barrilleaux, B.S., Donald G. Phinney, Ph.D., Darwin J. Prockop, M.D., Ph.D. and Kim O’Connor, Ph.D., from Tulane University (New Orleans, LA) and Tulane’s Health Science Center describe the advances achieved in identifying the optimal adult stem cell sources for generating tissue substitutes and refining the complex processes required to grow these cells ex vivo and induce them to replicate and differentiate into specific tissue types.

"The identification of optimal roles for different types of stem cells is critical at this time of rapid scientific discovery," says Peter C. Johnson, M.D., President and CEO of Scintellix, LLC and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Tissue Engineering.

The authors of the report outline future directions for adult stem cell research that will accelerate progress in developing replacement tissues for the nascent field of regenerative medicine.

They emphasize the need to understand clearly the basic biology of stem cells and the importance of advances in engineering sciences that will contribute to the development of better natural and synthetic scaffold materials and scaffold designs that will exploit emerging micro- and nanoscale technologies.

Another promising area of research focuses on the use of allogeneic stem cell sources for tissue engineering when a patient’s own stem cells are not available.