Thursday, 24 May 2012

Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine

Will Runting s4289620
In the early 21st Century there have been multiple attempts to synthetically create and grow cells and tissue structures. In 2010, Organovo, a company that specialises in regenerative medicine successfully bio-engineered living human tissue such as blood vessels using a Bio-printer[2]. Bio-printing is an innovative experimental procedure that uses stem cells to create synthetic tissue and organ structures and revolutionises organ donor problems worldwide. Another technique used by Karolinska University Hospital in 2011, involved creating a trachea from polymers and using stem cells to grow on the polymer structure and simulate the real trachea[1].
The procedure by Organovo, was originally done by The Department of Nanotechnology, Hannover in 2009 using a procedure named LIFT, or laser-induced forward transfer[2]. This procedure involves pulsing a laser through a glass slide to a gold light absorbing slide which prevents damage to the cell material. The material when pushed by the pressure from the gold slide and “prints” the genetic material onto a collector slide [2].

Figure 1: The components LIFT.[2]

This procedure allowed for Organovo to develop it into creating veins. By culturing stem cells and using them as the biological material, it prevents almost any possibility of rejection by the host. In order to create a vein, scientists use hydrogel[3] a scaffolding for cultured stem cells to be printed into.
Figure 2: The scaffolding levels of creating veins.[3]
 In addition to this procedure, other attempts at synthetically creating replacement organs are being made. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini from Karolinska University Hospital created a polymer based trachea that seems to have properties such as texture like a real trachea. In order to allow for the host to accept the trachea, Macchiarini applied stem cells to the trachea. These stem cells “were growing inside and outside” of the trachea creating “a living structure.”

Figure 3: The artificial trachea.[1]
The patient managed to successfully be implanted with the trachea and still lives with it.

While many experimental procedures to develop regenerative medicine have been implemented the addition of these procedures will certainly benefit humans in need of donors in regards to tissue and organs. The additional work has also created a greater understanding of stem cells and medicine and within many years could possibly have the potential to create entire organ systems.


1.       CNN. (2011). Lab-made organ implanted for first time. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from
2.       Koch Lothar, S. K. (2010). Laser Printing of Skin Cells and Human Stem Cells. Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods, 2-3.
3.       Wired. (2010). Sir, Your Liver Is Ready: Behind the Scenes of Bioprinting. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from

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