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It All Starts with Cells

Engineering an organ or tissue begins with having the right kinds of cells. In some cases, cells are isolated from a small tissue sample the size of a postage stamp. They are then mixed with growth factors and multiplied in the lab. The cells multiply in quantity so rapidly that, in about 6 weeks, a layer one cell thick could theoretically cover a football field.

For cell types that cannot be adequately grown outside the body (like heart, nerve, liver and pancreas cells, for example), stem cells may be an option because of their ability to become multiple cell types. Scientists in our lab identified a new source of stem cells -- amniotic fluid and placental tissue. These cells are readily obtainable and, unlike embryonic stem cells, do not form tumors. We are currently using the cells to explore potential treatments for diabetes and for liver and heart disease.

These images show muscle precursor cells in culture. When differentiated, the cells become muscle fibers (the “streaks” in the photo on the right).

Building an Organ 1Building an Organ 2

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After cell expansion, the next step in engineering a tissue or organ is to create a mold, or scaffold, in the shape of the tissue. Learn more about using electrospinning to create tubular scaffolds in the lab.

Quick Reference

Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Phone 336-713-7293
Fax 336-713-7290

Richard H. Dean Biomedical Building
391 Technology Way
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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Military Applications

Applying the principles of regenerative medicine to projects aimed at helping injured soldiers as part of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

Last Updated: 08-29-2016
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