Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 641–656 | Cite as

A Perspective on the Clinical Translation of Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

  • Matthew J. Webber
  • Omar F. Khan
  • Stefanie A. Sydlik
  • Benjamin C. Tang
  • Robert LangerEmail author


Scaffolds have been broadly applied within tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to regenerate, replace, or augment diseased or damaged tissue. For a scaffold to perform optimally, several design considerations must be addressed, with an eye toward the eventual form, function, and tissue site. The chemical and mechanical properties of the scaffold must be tuned to optimize the interaction with cells and surrounding tissues. For complex tissue engineering, mass transport limitations, vascularization, and host tissue integration are important considerations. As the tissue architecture to be replaced becomes more complex and hierarchical, scaffold design must also match this complexity to recapitulate a functioning tissue. We outline these design constraints and highlight creative and emerging strategies to overcome limitations and modulate scaffold properties for optimal regeneration. We also highlight some of the most advanced strategies that have seen clinical application and discuss the hurdles that must be overcome for clinical use and commercialization of tissue engineering technologies. Finally, we provide a perspective on the future of scaffolds as a functional contributor to advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.


Stem cells Scaffolds Engineering constraints FDA approval Entrepreneurial biotechnology Material properties 



MJW acknowledges support from the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK) for support through a Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32DK101335). BCT acknowledges support from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a Postdoctoral Fellowship (3-2011-310).


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Webber
    • 1
  • Omar F. Khan
    • 1
  • Stefanie A. Sydlik
    • 1
  • Benjamin C. Tang
    • 1
  • Robert Langer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer ResearchMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Medical Engineering and ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and TechnologyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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