Engineering Complex Synthetic Organs

  • Joan E. NicholsEmail author
  • Jean A. Niles
  • Joaquin Cortiella
Part of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine book series (STEMCELL)


At this time there is a substantial, and as yet unmet, demand for organs to replace nonfunctional tissues resulting from congenital defects, or to repair damaged or degenerated tissues. The field of regenerative medicine hopes to provide engineered replacement tissues in situations where our body’s regenerative capability or nonbiological mechanical devices cannot adequately replace lost physiological functions. This technology holds the promise to supply customized organs to overcome the severe shortages we currently face. Engineering synthetic organs is a complex process which necessitates careful (1) selection of cells or controlled proliferation of stem or progenitor cells to achieve appropriate numbers of cells for seeding onto biodegradable scaffolds to create cell-scaffold constructs, (2) design and selection of appropriate biodegradable or biomodifiable scaffold materials, and (3) design and construction of bioreactors to support generation of functional tissue replacements. To be successful, ongoing efforts to understand and engineer multicellular systems must continue, and new efforts to induce vascularization and integration of engineered tissues into the body will need to be developed. Current studies lead to improved understanding of how tissue systems can be integrated, as well as development of biomedical technologies not traditionally considered in tissue engineering, such as development of biohybrid organs or “bionic” devices.


Esophageal Atresia Scaffold Material Esophageal Replacement Congenital Tracheal Stenosis Synthetic Organ 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Extracellular matrix


End-stage renal disease


Fibroblast growth factor-2


Fetal pulmonary cell


Murine embryonic stem cell


Pro-surfactant protein C


Pluronic F-127


Polyglycolic acid


Renal tubule assist device


Somatic lung progenitor cell


Surfactant protein A


Surfactant protein C


Thyroid transcription factor-1



The authors would like to thank Kenneth D. Frohne for his photographic and editorial assistance during the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan E. Nichols
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jean A. Niles
    • 1
  • Joaquin Cortiella
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Regenerative and Nano-MedicineUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Internal Medicine and Infectious DiseasesUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Regenerative and Nano-Medicine, Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA

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