Tendons: Engineering of Functional Tissues



Modern advances in medical care have greatly improved survival rate and life expectancy following trauma or degenerative conditions, indirectly leading to an ever-increasing need for functional tissue substitutes to improve quality of life. As tendons have limited regeneration capacity, suitable substitutes are required for reconstruction. The current gold standards in tendon reconstruction are autografts, allografts, or even xenografts. However, the injury of a healthy tissue to obtain the graft and to partially repair the damaged side, the lack of donors and the risk of transmitting disease and/or induce an immunogenic reaction have significantly discouraged their use. Tissue engineering was pioneered as the solely valuable alternative. Advancements in the field allow us to fabricate facsimile that closely imitate the native architecture, remedy a deficit and restore functionality in the living tissue or organ. Indeed, numerous biocompatible and biodegradable constructs of various physical forms have been introduced aiming to provide mechanical stability and a three dimensional template for neotissue formation and organisation. Bioactive materials, materials designed to interact with the body to encourage tissue repair, have also been introduced. Strategies to encourage construct interactions with extracellular matrix components, growth factors and cell surface receptors are being explored. However, for a successful tissue reconstruction, it is of paramount importance to understand how the tissue forms and behaves in vivo. Following that, we need to evaluate how closely we can imitate nature. Only then we will be able to engineer constructs with clinical relevance. This chapter discusses the structural composition of the native tendon and summarises approaches in engineering tendon substitutes.



The second harmonic generation study was carried at Division of Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore; the authors would like to acknowledge Dr. E.S.Y. Yew, Prof. C. Sheppard and Prof. M. Raghunath for their help in this experiment.

The authors would also like to acknowledge the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK; the Faculty Research Committee of the Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore; the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology, Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI_09-RFPENM2483) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB)National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway)GalwayRepublic of Ireland
  2. 2.National University of Ireland GalwayGalwayRepublic of Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand SurgeryUniversity Hospital GalwayGalwayRepublic of Ireland

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