International Survey - Future Directions

International consensus suggests that advances in Tissue Engineering require the integration of a wide range of disciplines, including biological scientists, bioengineers, chemists and material scientists, mathematicians, physicists and clinicians. Until recently the United States led the world in assembling and supporting clusters of cross-disciplinary scientists. The strong movement in both Europe and Japan to promote the interactions among different laboratories, often by establishing centres with links to private industry (Japanese Millennium Project, UK CTE, is challenging this lead. In Australia, ARNTE is the local embodiment of this recognition for multi-disciplinary coalescence.

Replace with: "The common themes running throughout the global research community is that basic research needs to decipher structure-function relationships from the molecular level through to the tissue level. The production of functional tissue replacements also requires the development of appropriate engineering and delivery systems. Beyond these technological aspects, tissue engineering must fulfil a series of other requirements: it must meet a significant clinical need and it must demonstrate clinical utility. It must also have community and political support, be sensitive to the needs and values of the community, and exist within an appropriate legal and regulatory framework.

Within these broad themes, specific activities aimed at advancing the field can be identified:"

  • Integration of polymer science and engineering with molecular and cell biology, to generate ‘smart’ materials with sophisticated signalling capabilities
  • Stem and progenitor cell research relevant to tissue engineering
  • The application of gene therapy technologies to tissue engineering: optimisation of transfection efficiency and regulation of gene expression, control of bioavailability (temporal and spatial) and minimisation of cytotoxic effects
  • Molecular modifications of biomolecules for tissue engineering applications
  • Development of scaffolds and vehicles capable of controlling the spatial and temporal distribution of biomolecules to obtain a desired cellular response
  • Development of defined culture media for cell differentiation and expansion
  • Development of improved bioreactors for 3D tissue growth
  • Methods to promote vascularisation of engineered tissues
  • Development of tissue-specific and/or partial-assist bioreactors
  • Improved storage of three-dimensional engineered tissues
  • Identification of the minimum mechanical properties required of engineered tissues
  • Understanding the mechanical signals which regulate engineered tissues
  • Design, development, and characterisation of engineered tissues using informatics tools: machine vision/automated tissue analysis software, probes of cellular function, and standardised database construction enabling cross-talk
  • Application of microarrays to engineered tissues for genetic characterisation
  • Continued development of databases of tissue structure and function leading to rational tissue engineering design in three dimensions, including CAD/CAM tissue manufacture and automated QA systems
  • Continued development of national and global standards for the management and application of tissue, cellular, and molecular information.
  • Refinement of the legal framework for the transfer and subsequent status of human tissues for research and product development
  • Strategies for increasing interdisciplinary approaches
  • Education of research scientists and engineers involved in the life sciences
  • Continued development of the regulatory framework for engineered tissue products, including global harmonisation programmes
  • Examination of public perceptions of tissue engineering
  • Analysis of the source and significance of ethical issues in tissue engineering
  • Examining the role of ethical issues in legislative/policy processes