A worldwide body of 24 leaders in tissue engineering was queried systematically to determine the best paths toward that goal. Using a modified Hoshin process, we identified 14 critical activity categories and then stratified them by their immediate priority for the field. The result of the analysis illustrates a highly interdependent set of activities that are dominated by the need for an understanding of angiogenesis, stem cell science, and the utilization of molecular biology and systems biology tools to enable a deeper comprehension of tissue development and control.
1. ‘‘Understanding and controlling the cellular response: A fundamental challenge is to understand how cells— the building blocks of tissues—receive and respond to information from their local environment in establishing and maintaining tissues.
2. Formulating biomaterial scaffolds and the tissue matrix environment: The scaffolding that supports cells and gives tissues their form is increasingly appreciated as an important source of information that drives cell fate determination. A deeper understanding of the biology underlying this relationship will allow more effective tissue design and engineering.
3. Developing enabling tools: Complex, multiparametric inputs are required to assess the state of a tissue and the cells within it. This information will be supplied by improvements in high-throughput assays and instrumentation, imaging modalities, fabrication technologies, computational modeling, and bioinformatics. Additionally, tissue preservation technologies and bioreactors will facilitate the generation of tissues on demand.
4. Promoting scale-up, translation, and commercialization: Demonstrating the feasibility of designing an engineered tissue is not enough. Realizing the full benefits tissue engineering science requires increased reproducibility, robustness, and user-friendliness that will enable the broad distribution of products.’’
Critical priorities for the field:
- ‘‘Understanding the Cellular Machinery
- Identifying, Validating Biomarkers and Assays
- Advancing Imaging Technologies
- Defining Cell/Environment Interactions
- Establishing Computational Modeling Systems
- Assembling and Maintaining Complex Tissue
- Improving Tissue Preservation and Storage
- Facilitating Effective Applications Development and Commercialization’’