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Nanotechnological strategies for engineering complex tissues


Tissue engineering aims at developing functional substitutes for damaged tissues and organs. Before transplantation, cells are generally seeded on biomaterial scaffolds that recapitulate the extracellular matrix and provide cells with information that is important for tissue development. Here we review the nanocomposite nature of the extracellular matrix, describe the design considerations for different tissues and discuss the impact of nanostructures on the properties of scaffolds and their uses in monitoring the behaviour of engineered tissues. We also examine the different nanodevices used to trigger certain processes for tissue development, and offer our view on the principal challenges and prospects of applying nanotechnology in tissue engineering.

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Figure 1: An example of a tissue engineering concept that involves seeding cells within porous biomaterial scaffolds.
Figure 2: The information provided to cells by the extracellular matrix (ECM).
Figure 3: Recreating ECM components using nanoscale tools.
Figure 4: Nanodevices in tissue engineering.


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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants DE13023, DE016516, EB006365 and R01GM073626, and NSF grant BES-0609182. T.D. acknowledges a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association. B.P.T. acknowledges a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences. We thank S. Cohen, S. McAllister and B. Tian for their comments.

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Correspondence to Robert Langer.

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R.L. has a financial interest in Pervasis and Fibrocell Science, Inc.

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Dvir, T., Timko, B., Kohane, D. et al. Nanotechnological strategies for engineering complex tissues. Nature Nanotech 6, 13–22 (2011).

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