Benefits of Artificial Organs

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Due to a variety of reasons including chronic health problems or acute injury, patients can find themselves in need of a transplant to replace their failing organ. The need for organ transplants has been on a steady rise for the past 50 years. The supply of conventional deceased organ donors, however, has remained relatively constant though, forcing many patients to wait on the organ transplant waiting list. According to the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, in 2009, the United States waiting list of candidates was approaching 106,000 patients. Of the 106,000 patients on the waiting list in the United States, over 4400 deaths occurred in patients waiting on the list (Malchesky 177). This problem has been addressed by campaigns to increase awareness by promoting that people become organ donors, but this slight increase in donors does not come close to meeting the need on the organ transplant waiting list. Advancements in medical treatments in the form of drugs and therapies have also attempted to alleviate the problem faced, but these techniques treat symptoms of the problem of the failing organ and are not as permanent as a replacement. Tissue engineering is a promising new field of study which aims to regenerate living tissues and organs through the use of cells and scaffold constructs. This method provides the greatest potential to produce artificial organs to meet the need for patients on the organ donation list and beyond. In tissue engineering of organs, autologous cells provide the best option for future medical treatments. At its core, the goal of tissue engineering is to develop biological substitutes to restore, maintain or improve tissue function. The two basic components of a tissue engineered organ are a biocompatible scaffold and stem cells. A biocompatible scaffold is a structure, usually made out of collagen, that when placed into the body

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