Regenerative Engineering is the Science of the Future

Regenerative engineering seems to be the up-and-coming field to watch, or at least it is according to Dr. Cato T. Laurencin MD, PhD, who gave a lecture at The City College of New York on November 19th describing his research.

Laurencin is currently a professor at the University of Connecticut and a practicing orthopedic surgeon. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Regenerative Engineering. He earned his degrees from Princeton University, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Regenerative engineering integrates the principles of tissue engineering with advanced materials science, stem cell based science, and developmental biology,” said Laurencin.

Most of Laurencin’s lecture focused on regenerative bone engineering and its future. Since he holds both an MD and a PhD, he not only invents new methods to treat injuries but is also able to one day put them to use.

Cross section of a human hip bone (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Cross section of a human hip bone
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

“Being a doctor, I work with a lot of injuries that used to be irreversible,” said Laurencin. “Advancements in regenerative engineering allow us to begin addressing these challenges in musculoskeletal regeneration.”

Laurencin’s lecture included his work with nanofibers which are used to create “matrices” that are placed in the body where there has been bone loss. Amazingly, the bone can grow within these matrices as the matrices dissolve, leaving a new and healed bone. This is also possible, through different methods, with tissues and ligaments.

“We all must find the ‘newt in us,’ meaning our ability to regrow and heal ourselves in ways we never believed,” said Laurencin.

The first bone matrix implant in man was done in July of 2013, and Laurencin hopes that there will be more executions of his work in the future.

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