The Promise of Tissue Engineering

Faculty insight with Sujata Bhatia

Sujata Bhatia, a lecturer on biomedical engineering at Harvard, talks with Jenny Attiyeh of ThoughtCast about the science behind tissue engineering.

Video summary 

Sujata Bhatia is the assistant director for undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and an assistant dean at Harvard Summer School.

Bhatia works in tissue engineering research and its clinical applications. Tissue engineering is the science behind repairing and regenerating tissues injured by trauma or chronic disease. With tissue engineering, future medical treatments could involve solutions that regenerate themselves rather than implanted medical devices.

Scientists in tissue engineering have discovered that almost every organ system can be regenerated if you have a scaffold of the right geometry and you seed it with the right progenitor cells. Translating these discoveries from the lab to the clinic has been one of the biggest hurdles. There have been some clinical trials for tissue engineering of replacement skin, and some pilot trials have begun for other organs.

Bhatia serves as the thesis advisor for Suneil Seetharam, an Extension School biotechnology graduate student. He is working on new wound closure technology to mimic the feel and elasticity of real human skin.

Some tissue glues are on the market, but they suffer from limitations with tissue compatibility and strength. The ideal glue would seal the wound, be compatible with surrounding tissue, degrade as the wound is healing, and be composed of a nontoxic substance that is easily excreted from the body. 

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