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Francis E. Smit, Pascal M. Dohmen
(Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)
Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2015; 21:1-3
Tissue engineering was introduced by Vacanti and Langer in the 80’s, exploring the potential of this new technology starting with the well-known “human ear on the mouse back”. The goal is to create a substitute which supplies an individual therapy for patients with regeneration, remodeling and growth potential. The growth potential of these subjects is of special interest in congenital cardiac surgery, avoiding repeated interventions and surgery. Initial applications of tissue engineered created substitutes were relatively simple cardiovascular grafts seeded initially by end-differentiated autologous endothelial cells. Important data were collected from these initial clinical autologous endothelial cell seeded grafts in peripheral and coronary vessel disease. After these initial successfully implantation bone marrow cell were used to seed patches and pulmonary conduits were implanted in patients. Driven by the positive results of tissue engineered material implanted under low pressure circumstances, first tissue engineered patches were implanted in the systemic circulation followed by the implantation of tissue engineered aortic heart valves. Tissue engineering is an extreme dynamic technology with continuously modifications and improvements to optimize clinical products. New technologies are unified and so this has also be done with tissue engineering and new application features, so called transcatheter valve intervention. First studies are initiated to apply tissue engineered heart valves with this new transcatheter delivery system less invasive. Simultaneously studies have been started on tissue engineering of so-called whole organs since organ transplantation is restricted due to donor shortage and tissue engineering could overcome this problem. Initial studies of whole heart engineering in the rat model are promising and larger size models are initiated.