Tissue engineering – a Promising Research of the Future?

Mila Djisalov & Minja Mladenović
Young researchers,
BioSense Institute

Tissue engineering implies the use of a combination of different cell types, methods, and suitable biochemical and physicochemical factors for making functional tissue outside of the body. Certain types of cells and tissue are being collected on so-called scaffolds with serum in an environment that encourages their growth. Tissue engineering is a relatively new scientific topic that is implemented in two very hot topics today – regenerative medicine and cultivated meat production. Namely, one of the main focuses of tissue engineering involves organ regeneration, which can subsequently be used as a donor organ or even miniaturized to test drugs for toxicity, in the case of drug screening within the liver. Clinical applications also involve growing skin for burn victims or organs for patients requiring organ transplantation. On the other hand, there is cultivated meat production – a consequence of the rate of demand we can’t presently sustain with animal-based food production.

What is the difference in the use of tissue engineering in Regenerative medicine and cultivated meat production?

While the science behind growing tissue for an organ transplant is similar to growing muscle tissue for cultivated meat production, both come with a set of very different considerations, which is illustrated adequately in Figures 1 and 2 originating from New Harvest website .

Figure 1. Schematic illustration of tissue engineering applications for regenerative medicine purposes

Figure 2. Schematic illustration of tissue engineering applications for cultivated meat purposes

Organs-on-a-chip? Science fiction or science fact?

What certainly got the public’s attention is the story of organs-on-a-chip (OOC) – promising model to predict pharmacokinetic response in vitro. This approach may present a good alternative to the ethically questionable animal experiments to test the toxicity and efficacy of drugs in the future. An organ-on-a-chip is specifically a microfluidic cell culture device that simulates physiological responses of organs to drugs and metabolites in vitro. It contains continuously perfused compartments with living cells that enable the analysis of biochemical, mechanical and metabolic processes.

Figure 3. Skin, bone, heart and liver organ-on-a-chip model from the laboratory of Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Columbia University

Figure 3 shows a skin, bone, heart and liver model coming from the laboratory of Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a university professor and professor of biomedical engineering and medicine at the Mikati Foundation at Columbia University. Laboratory of Prof. Dr Vunjak – Novakovic is also concerned with cancer as an OOC model, in which metastasis could be studied and drug efficacy could be assessed. The ultimate goal is to develop an integrated human-on-a-chip that includes all the major organ systems.

Figure 3. Skin, bone, heart and liver organ-on-a-chip model from the laboratory of Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Columbia University

Microfluidics in tissue engineering. Scale down to scale up!

IPANEMA Project Coordinator, Dr Ivana Gadjanski and IPANEMA’s Risk & Quality Manager are recipients of a GFI grants. Through these two Projects – RealSense1 and RealSense2, they will be working on the development of sensors for monitoring biomass and nutrients/metabolites in the medium-a lab-on-a-chip laboratory.
Reduction is an approach used in the early stages of bioprocess development. Therefore, it is advisable to make microcultivators whose total volume is in the microliter range. In this way cell cultivation is much cheaper because the volume of the medium is much smaller. It is also possible to test different sensors and devices for the cells in which the cells grow. It is a very cost-effective way to obtain quantitative data, valuable for later stages of development and then for scale-up. Biosensors can make significant improvements to regenerative medicine (organs-on-a-chip) analysis and also be important in the growing field of cellular agriculture – production of agricultural products using cell cultures and tissue engineering, especially for cultivated meat.

Figure 4. Figure from the RealSense1 project description