Public Release: 

Latest tissue engineering research discussed at Rice

Aug. 14-17 event features newest findings on stem cells, therapeutic cloning

Rice University

HOUSTON, Aug. 12, 2002 -- With Congress debating a potential ban on the use of cloning in biomedical research, the nation's foremost tissue-engineering experts are meeting at Rice University in Houston this week to discuss the latest scientific research aimed at growing cells, tissues and organs for transplantation. Featured research includes ongoing clinical trials and studies that employ some controversial techniques, such as therapeutic cloning and stem-cell harvesting, which are at the center of the ongoing debate.

The 10th annual "Advances in Tissue Engineering (ATE)," which will be held Aug. 14-17, is designed to offer scientists and clinicians an overview of current research in the field.

Several of this year's ATE sessions center upon technologies related to therapeutic cloning. Dr. Anthony Atala, an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of Harvard's Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapuetics, will discuss "Stem Cell Sources for Tissue Engineering" from 7:40 to 8:30 a.m., Weds. Atala attracted national attention this summer when he published research about the successful transplantation of kidneys and other tissues into cows. The study offered convincing evidence that therapeutic cloning can be used to create tissues that won't be rejected by a patient's immune system.

In addition to Atala's presentation, two sessions Thursday morning will focus on the potential for using adult stems cells as a means of growing tissue for transplants. Arnold Caplan, professor of biology and director of the Skeletal Research Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, will discuss "The Use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Tissue Engineered Regenerates of Skeletal Tissues" from 7:40 to 8:30 a.m.; and Dr. Marc Hedrick, associate professor of surgery and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine, will present "Adult Stem Cells: Potential for Tissue Engineering" from 8:50 to 9:40 a.m.

"Traumatic injuries, cancer treatment and congenital and vascular abnormalities often involve a loss of tissue," said Antonios Mikos, the J.W. Cox Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering and director of Rice's Center for Excellence in Tissue Engineering. "With the latest techniques in bioengineering, doctors are beginning to see viable alternatives to donor transplants -- both in the form of lab-grown implants and from cellular therapies that provide an alternative to whole-organ transplantation."

Tissue engineering involves a combination of technologies that have resulted from advances in cell biology and materials science. Tissue engineers typically create partially synthetic materials by growing human cells within a biodegradable scaffolding that acts as a template for replacement bone, skin, cartilage or other tissues.

A full ATE agenda and other information is available online at http://dacnet.rice.edu/~bioe/tissue.

ATE attendees will include cardiovascular and reconstructive surgeons, research scientists from industry and academia, biomedical engineers, gene-therapy researchers and cellular biologists. The course is sponsored by Desmogen Inc., LifeCell Corporation and Scipero Inc.

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