John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Humans have struggled for eons to replace tissues lost due to trauma, disease or congenital abnormalities, going back to the Ancient Egyptians where broken bones, dental implants, and even artificial toes were found in tombs. Jumping forward to modern medicine and the advent of the device industry in the 1960s, metals and plastics, chosen as stealth materials to interact minimally with the body, served as the basis for structural implants to replace knees, hips, and larger vascular structures. The field of tissue engineering, now frequently termed regenerative medicine, emerged in the late 1980s to create biological tissue replacements. From there arose the concept of designing biomaterial scaffolds to actively engage with surrounding cells and to support tissue morphogenesis. Biomaterial scaffold research further exploded with the discovery of stem cells that required multiple biological signals to induce proliferation and differentiation. Today, biomaterials can be engineered with exquisite control and can present an array of biophysical cues in the form of peptides, sugars, and other biopolymers with varying mechanical and structural paradigms depending on the need. This lecture will discuss examples of biomaterial scaffolds for tissue reconstruction in orthopedics, ophthalmology and plastic surgery. Future perspectives of the field and the newly discovered importance of the immune system and the development of biomaterials-directed regenerative immunology will be presented.