Preservation constraints have been identified as a key bottleneck in tissue engineering progress by over a dozen science and healthcare agencies in the U.S., including 6 NIH institutes. The White House recently announced a $160 million “Manufacturing Innovation Institute” focused on advanced tissue biomanufacturing, once again recognizing tissue preservation as one of the major challenges to be tackled.
Many tissues currently take months to create but expire within days, forcing a “just in time” manufacturing model. This prevents some aspiring regenerative medicine companies from adjusting to changing demand, limits the distance that tissues can be shipped, and keeps many methods for quality control and assurance off limits. Living tissues need a shelf-life to make clinical use practical and routine.
Tissue preservation advances can greatly increase the commercial attractiveness of tissue engineering as an industry. This will drive investment in fundamental tissue engineering research, for the benefit of future generations. And it will directly benefit patients in need of regenerative medicine therapies today.