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Non-medical applications of tissue engineering: biofabrication of a leather-like material
Materials Today Sustainability  (IF4.524),  Pub Date : 2019-05-24, DOI: 10.1016/j.mtsust.2019.100018
K. Jakab, F. Marga, R. Kaesser, T.-H. Chuang, H. Varadaraju, D. Cassingham, S. Lee, A. Forgacs, G. Forgacs

Most tissue engineering efforts are focused on applications in regenerative medicine to improve the quality of life of patients. Despite spectacular progress in the last 20 years, the expected breakthrough to replace dysfunctional tissues in the organism or mitigate the chronic shortage of donor organs has not yet been achieved. This is not surprising, given the enormous challenge facing the biofabrication of complex living structures in vitro and the associated astronomical expenditures. Here, we propose a more modest but more realistic utilization of the knowledge accumulated in tissue engineering and associated biofabrication technologies over the years. We describe specific efforts to engineer the particular compartment of a complex tissue, the skin that gives rise to a commercially useful leather-like material. We take the reader through the entire process from the sourcing of collagen-secreting cells, to the engineering, tanning and final finishing of the material. We analyze the composition, structure, and physical properties of the final product. We compare our process with that followed by the leather industry to point out the advantages and disadvantages of both.