Nina Tandon Postdoctoral Staff Associate Researcher, Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Columbia University; Associate Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
I think that a huge problem is just the simple challenge of building some of these tissues. The heart is really hard to engineer and other tissues like the liver or lungs are even harder. I think getting the tissues to be close enough in functionality to what we can observe in the body is still the main challenge, but that’s just the first set of challenges. Because even after mastering the engineering of these tissues, I think that the next set of challenges is also quite difficult. How do we transition those into actual therapies? Of course there’s the whole FDA approval process to consider, which is filled with hurdles, but we also have to consider manufacturing processes in order to be able to generate tissues on more of a mass scale.
In the future, we will need to have labs that are specialized to do this. We will have to automate some of the cell culture techniques as well as make the generation and transportation of these tissues compatible with surgical techniques. So there are going to have to be a lot of paradigm shifts that are going to have to occur for us to be able to see these tissues just as part of a normal surgical procedure. I don’t think they’re insurmountable, but I think they’re going to have to happen one by one.
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