PBS Tissue Engineering Interview12 years, 8 months ago
Posted on Oct 31, 2006, 10 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Tissue engineering is actually a science that attempts to bring cells with materials together and by taking cells and place them among materials, the cells can actually be accelerated into growing into tissues that can then be implanted back into the patient.
DR. ANTHONY ATALA: Tissue engineering is actually a science that attempts to bring cells with materials together and by taking cells and place them among materials, the cells can actually be accelerated into growing into tissues that can then be implanted back into the patient.
SUSAN DENTZER: And that's exactly what you did with the human bladder. Tell us what you did.
DR. ATALA: We found several tissues in the laboratory and some we have been able to transfer into patients, the bladder being one of them. Basically the concept is we take a very small piece of the diseased organ, and we then take that piece of tissue and grow the cell types separately in the laboratory. We then place the cells on a three dimensional scaffold in the shape of the tissue or organ. We place that in incubator for about two weeks and then we're able to implant the partially made tissue back into the body, allowing the body to finalize the process.
SUSAN DENTZER: And this scaffolding is what exactly?
DR. ATALA: They're basically just materials that once in the body, disintegrate or go away once the tissue is able to grow and take over.
SUSAN DENTZER: And you've done this successfully with the bladder and now have more than five years of data to rely on. What other tissues are you working on?
DR. ATALA: We are currently working on a variety of tissues including blood vessels, heart valves, tissues for other type of regeneration that includes muscle and cartilage, pancreatic tissue.
SUSAN DENTZER: How far along are you on these other tissues?
DR. ATALA: They're at different levels of development. Some have already made it to the clinical experience. Some are still in the pre-clinical stage and some are still at the very basic level.
SUSAN DENTZER: And by the clinical stage, you mean actually having been implanted back into patients.
DR. ATALA: That's right. We have implanted some tissues back into patients and we are still under trials under those tissues. There are still some improvements need to be made and there's still a lot that needs to be done before we're able to disseminate these technologies widely.