Polymeric biomaterials for tissue and organ regeneration
This paper reviews recent work involving polymeric biomaterials used for skin, cartilage, bone, vascular, nerve and liver regeneration. Skin trauma involves damage to the epidermal, dermal and/or subdermal tissues. Epithelial, dermal and full-thickness replacements are considered. Cartilage research is mainly focused on replacing hyaline cartilage. Researchers investigate both nondegradable polymers, which must provide mechanical stability, and degradable polymers, which must support cartilage regeneration. Natural healing in large bone defects often fails. Materials for bone reconstruction must be biocompatible, offer mechanical properties similar to those of bone and support tissue regeneration. The area of vascular grafts draws attention as improvements to the patency of existing materials are needed. Studies to improve current vascular graft polymers as well as develop new polymers are reviewed below. The design and testing of materials for nerve regeneration, to repair damage caused by illness or accident, is an active area of research. Directional nerve guidance via tubulation is discussed, as are matrix materials to enhance axonal extension. Finally, liver transplantation remains one of the only options for chronic liver disease and the demand for liver transplants far exceeds the number of available organs. The complexity of parameters involved in liver regeneration is presented here.