Biofabrication is an exciting and rapidly advancing field. And, while regenerative medicine has been considered science fiction among the general public, for decades scientists have been slowly but surely bringing us closer to the potential for growing whole organs for transplant. Advances in tissue engineering, 3D printable cells and organs, are changing the way we approach the development of drugs, diagnostics, devices, and, some day, replacement body parts.
An exciting development reported in Nature Communication reveals that researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have developed a simple method of organizing cells and their microenvironments in hydrogel fibers.
According to the data, this unique technology provides a feasible template for assembling complex structures, such as liver and fat tissues. According to IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying, “Our tissue engineering approach gives researchers great control and flexibility over the arrangement of individual cell types, making it possible to engineer prevascularized tissue constructs easily. This innovation brings us a step closer toward developing viable tissue or organ replacements.”
As we race toward this brave new world of bioengineered cells, tissues and organs, we need to consider the impact on the public. Is the scientific community keeping its finger on the pulse of the global medical and patient community? Are these academic, professional and commercial researchers effectively communicating about the benefits of this kind of life-enhancing and potentially life-saving science?
Organizations engaged in regenerative medicine will face unique challenges – technical, medical, and manufacturing challenges – to be sure. But these groups must also be prepared to manage communication challenges. The use of simple, measurable, ongoing inbound marketing communications can help this innovative medical category to advance and manage its image and message.
There is a major unmet medical need for replacement organs (90% of transplant patients are awaiting a kidney transplant). A great primer of where we have come from and where are going with regenerative medicine can be viewed in the TED talk of Anthony Atala: Printing a Human Kidney.