Tissue Engineering

The term "tissue engineering" refers to methods that promote the regrowth of cells lost to trauma or disease. Tissue engineers use many methods, including the manipulation of artificial and natural materials that provide structure and biochemical instructions to young cells as they grow into specific kinds of tissue. These materials are called scaffolds because they provide support and materials for tissue regrowth in the same way that a scaffold supports workers and materials for a building under construction.

The ideal scaffold delivers just the right amount of support and chemical cues and is harmlessly broken down by the body as new tissue replaces it. The McGowan Institute is a pioneer in the development of scaffold materials, some of which are in clinical use worldwide.

Esophagus and Trachea Reconstruction

If a patient's food tube or airway is damaged, scar tissue can form, which makes breathing or swallowing impossible. Currently, there are no treatments for these conditions other than to remove the damaged areas. McGowan Institute researchers are working on a method that uses natural scaffolds seeded with the patient's own cells to encourage the growth of healthy tissue instead of scar tissue. In early studies, a damaged section of the food tube was replaced with a specially formed scaffold constructed from a material already being used in humans. Within 90 days, the scaffold was replaced with functional tissue.

Nerve Guide

Cells in the peripheral nervous system can regrow, but they sometimes have trouble linking up with each other, which is essential to restore feeling and function. To aid peripheral nerve regeneration, McGowan Institute researchers have developed scaffolds made of FDA-approved biodegradable polymers and protein beads. Channels in the scaffolds act as guides for axons, the long arms of nerve cells, to grow longer and in the right directions. In early studies, a nerve guide seeded with stem cells derived from fat restored some hind leg mobility to paralyzed rats.

Resuscitation Fluid

A fluid derived from aloe vera has the potential to save the lives of patients with massive blood loss. In early tests, McGowan Institute researchers found that a very small amount of the fluid increased survival time and helped body tissues take up more oxygen, even when blood or other fluids were not administered.


Contact Us

McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
450 Technology Drive
Suite 300
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Read information on campus shuttles »

Phone: 412-624-5500
Fax: 412-624-5363
Email: McGowan@pitt.edu​​​​


UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com