Tissue Engineering is the science of growing replacement organs and tissue in the lab to replace damaged or diseased tissue. The process usually starts with a three-dimensional structure called a scaffold that is used to support cells as they grow and develop.

Skin, blood vessels, bladders, trachea, esophagus, muscle and other types of tissue have been successfully engineered; and some of these tissues have already been used in treating human disease.

Solid organs -- such as the liver, kidney, heart and pancreas -- are especially challenging and are considered the "Holy Grail" of tissue engineering. Scientists at the Institute are working on a variety of strategies to engineer solid organs. 

Replacement Organs and Tissue Research

Anal Sphincters
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have built the first functional anal sphincters in the laboratory, suggesting a potential future treatment for both fecal and urinary incontinence.

Blood Vessel Research

The scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are developing engineered blood vessels using a tubular scaffold, the building block of the new vessel.

Engineering Eggs for IVF
Institute scientists are working to use a woman’s own ovarian cells to grow eggs in the laboratory that can be used in in vitro fertilization procedures

Engineering a Kidney
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have grown cells with the characteristics of kidney cell with the the ultimate goal of improving renal function.

Human Liver
Institute scientists are working to provide a solution to grow replacement livers to offset the shortage of donor livers available for patients who need transplants.

Replacing a Human Ear
Institute scientists are 3D printing external ear structures, consisting of the pinna and ear lobe, that benefit hearing and are important cosmetically then traditional ear-shaped implants.