The excruciating pain of having a failed organ and the grim chances of replacing it is a struggle of millions of patients across the globe. A ground-breaking discovery in this field, is giving a whole new definition to having one’s own personal organ! This discovery is none other than tissue engineering -- a science that has changed the face of organ transplant.
Tissue engineering is a process involving growing of tissues or organs in a laboratory. It is done to replace or support the function of defective or injured body part. A combination of biology and engineering, this science can maintain, restore and improve the function of ruptured human tissues. Ever since bioengineered skin, the first result of tissue engineering has been a success; there have been numerous attempts to engineer other human organs.
Scientists believe that in the years to come, labs would be filled with rows of hearts and livers that could be taken off the shelf and tailored for one’s personal use. In one such invention, scientists in the USA have invented a very promising ‘mini’ version of a working heart by using spinach leaves where plant veins have been used to replicate blood flow. In this attempt, spinach leaves are modified, its cells discarded and the frame made of cellulose is used. Since cellulose is a biocompatible material, the network of tiny veins is bathed into live human cells. Once human tissue grow on these veins, it is tested with fluids and micro beads and transformed into a live mini heart.
This is just one of the inventions that could allow replacement of damaged tissue in patients who have had heart attacks or other cardiac issues, powered by tissue engineering. Once commercialized on a larger scale, inventions like this could virtually lead to a shop where one could order a heart or other organs! A shopping spree in the future of medicine seems to be coming soon.