Beginning in 1980, scientists have been trying to find a solution to the progressing problem of organ transplants. Many concerns come with transplanting an organ into the body; the two major issues are a lack of donors and a high rejection rate. A proposed solution to the rising issue is growing artificial organs in a lab. As technology advances, researchers are becoming increasingly closer to successfully growing a functioning organ that can be transplanted into a human body.
When researchers first began the climb to successfully grow internal organs in a lab, many barriers needed to be overcome; the first being growing ticker tissues. In the article “Lab-Grown Organs Begin to Take Shape,” Robert Langer, inspired by the branching of seaweed, developed polymers that had a branching structure (Ferber 1999). Branching is a way to increase the surface area of the polymers, and therefore they can absorb more nutrients to grow thick and strong enough to support a complex organ. All progressions in tissue and organ engineering following Langer’s discovery used his branch structured polymers. His design led to the first man-made tissues, skin and cartilage, which were used in clinics. Langer’s discovery brought researchers closer to developing man-made, transplantable organs because he figured out a way to make basic tissues strong enough to grow into complex organs.
The next greatest step in the biomedical engineering of tissues was led by Laura Niklason and her research team from Yale University in 2009. By placing cells on a functioning lung, the team was able to grow lung tissue. The researchers used nine different types of cells and reported that all nine types grew to perform their appropriate task as part of the lung tissue. The ...
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