Computational Modelling in Tissue Engineering: Providing Light in Times of Darkness pp. 243-266
Authors: (Ryan J. McCoy, Daniel J. Kelly, Fergal J. O’Brien, Department of Anatomy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland, and others)
Abstract: The human body can be considered an extremely complex machine. The demands placed on this machine over the lifetime of an individual or their natural genetic predisposition to particular conditions can result in the failure of native internal structures; for example, hips, knees, hearts or kidneys. Computational modelling has played a key role in the realisation of mechanically engineered replacements that can either be implanted internally (e.g ventricular assist devices and orthopaedic implants) or used to replace organ functionality externally (e.g kidney dialysis machines). This has enabled temporary ablation of the body‘s decline in some instances, but the provision of a biologically and anatomically relevant substitute capable of integrating into the host and continuing the original function unaided for the remaining lifetime of the individual, has yet to reach fruition. Interdisciplinary collaboration over the last 40 years between the engineering and scientific communities, has pursued and continues to pursue, the development of physiologically representative substitutes through the cultivation of tissue ex-vivo or through the induction of tissue growth in-vivo (tissue engineering and regenerative medicine). The intrinsic complexity of these biological systems means that experimentally prizing apart the individual mechanisms at play may not always be viable. Computational modelling tools thus have the potential to prove a very powerful addition once again; providing light where there is darkness in this emerging field and promoting furthered understanding.
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