It seems like my job is getting more and more hectic. I started it a month ago, and now I am getting ready to start actual experiments. My PhD background was mainly focused on some biomaterials aspects, but mainly I worked with bioreactors, which I’ll talk about sometime. My project now focuses a lot on biomaterials, most specifically scaffolds for tissue regeneration. Scaffolds form part of the popular tissue engineering triangle. I have posted a little schematic of this triangle here, created by me, yay!
But you may be wondering why in the world we need tissue engineering. I mean, there are prostheses; the body can regenerate by itself, we can pray and wait for a miracle, be kidnapped by extraterrestrials and have them apply their ultra-mega-regenerative rays on us, etc. True, many tissues in the body, such as bone and skin, can regenerate by themselves under certain conditions. If you’ve ever had a fracture, you know you’ll get a cast and, voila!, at some point your bones are fine and dandy, and you didn’t have to go to work for a few days, which is always a plus. But what would happen if you were undergoing chemotherapy in which case cellular activity diminishes? or if the gap were so large that your bones wouldn’t be able to achieve any successful even if they try hard?. It would be like jumping from one building to another that is far away, no matter how hard you try to jump, you’d be screwed anyway. So Doctors then try to fix the injury using all kinds or mechanical means, such as implantation of prosthesis, or taking a piece of healthy tissue from yourself (autograft) or from someone else (allograft) to put it into the site of injury. Some people claim that this all works beautifully, then why the heck does the research area even exist?! The truth is that these technologies have worked to some extent, but major limitations remain. Prostheses result in ware out of the surrounding tissue, requiring further surgeries. Autografts would be ideal, but there is little availability and morbidity at the site of harvesting of the graft. Allografts present similar problems, in addition to posing risks of disease transmission and some serious immune reaction. WOW! Don’t worry now! we have tissue engineering to save us! (that sounded like an entrance from the justice league, and now you can tell how old I am). In any case, tissue engineering tries to aid the body regenerating lost or damaged tissue, overcoming all the limitations that I have talked about. And here is where I go back to the triangle! But this post is getting too long, and you guys won’t finish reading it. So I’ll post the end of my little tissue engineering introduction tomorrow… don ’t hate me; I know how exciting this has been!