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Regeneration (Biology); Wounds and injuries--Treatment; Transplantation of organs, tissues, etc.


Throughout the human life cycle, tissues are regenerated either continuously to maintain tissue integrity in the face of normal cell turnover or in response to acute or chronic damage due to trauma or disease states. Blood, epithelia of skin and tubular organs, hair and nails, and bone marrow are examples of human tissues which regenerate continuously as well as in response to damage. Bone, muscle, adrenal cortex and kidney epithelium also regenerate in response to damage, and bone is continually remodeled in response to stress vectors.

The response of many other vital tissues to damage, however, is not regeneration but repair by the formation of collagenous scar tissue. Scar tissue interrupts the normal tissue architecture, compromising· its function to varying degrees, depending on the severity of the injury or disease process. Some examples of diseases and injuries that cause serious impairment by scarring are third degree bums, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, macular degeneration of the neural retina and myocardial infarction. These injuries and diseases are costly in terms of healthcare dollars and potential decline in quality of life. Thus, a major goal of biomedical science is to be able to restore the structure and function of damaged or dysfunctional tissues that do not regenerate naturally. Three major approaches to tissue restoration have been developed: bionics, solid organ transplantation, and, more recently, regenerative biology, which includes cell transplantation, bioartificial tissue constructs and regrowth of new tissues from injured residual tissues in vivo. The purpose of this paper is to discuss these approaches with a particular emphasis on regenerative biology.

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