Israeli scientists have reported that they invented the first fully personalized tissue implant, developed from the patient's own materials and cells. The new technology enables the engineering of all kinds of tissue implants, spinal cord, heart or brain, with one small biopsy of body fat.
"We've managed to create a personalized hydrogel from biopsy materials to differentiate adipose tissue cells into different cell types and design heart, spinal cord, cortical and other implants to cure various diseases," said lead scientist prof. Tal Dvir of the Tel Aviv University of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Center and Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology.
"Because both the cells and the material used come from the patient, the implant does not trigger an immune response, ensuring proper regeneration of the damaged organ," explains Dvir.
The study was conducted by Dr. Dvir, Reuven Edri and doctoral students Nadav Noor and Idan Gal, in cooperation with Prof. Dan Peer and prof. Irit Gat Viks from the Department of Cellular and Immunology Research at TAU and prof. Lior Heller from Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in Israel. It has been recently published in the journal Advanced Materials.
Avoiding anti-rejection drugs
Currently, in tissue engineering for regenerative medicine, cells are isolated from the patient and cultured in biomaterials to combine into functional tissue. These biomaterials can be synthetic or natural, derived from plants or animals.
After transplantation, they can trigger an immune response that leads to rejection of the implanted tissue. Patients receiving modified tissues or other implants are treated with immunosuppressive therapy, which unfortunately may affect the patient's health.
The new method solves this problem.
"Thanks to our technology, we can design any type of tissue, and after transplantation we can effectively regenerate any sick or injured organ – the heart after a heart attack, brain injury or Parkinson's disease, spinal cord after injury" – said Dvir.
"In addition, we can construct an adipogenic one [fatty tissue] implants for reconstructive surgery or cosmetics. These implants will not be rejected by the body. "
Researchers identified a small biopsy of adipose tissue from patients, and then separated its cellular and cellular materials. While the cells have been reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells – able to form cells from all three basic body layers, so that they can potentially produce any cell or tissue that the body needs to repair – the extracellular material has been processed to become a personalized hydrogel.
After combining the obtained stem cells and hydrogel, the scientists successfully developed personalized tissue samples and tested the patients' immune responses.
Currently, researchers are involved in the regeneration of damaged spinal cord and heart with heart attack using spinal and cardiac implants. Researchers also began investigating the potential of human dopaminergic implants to treat Parkinson's disease in animal models.
Researchers plan to regenerate other organs, including intestines and eyes, using their own materials and cells.
"We believe that engineering technology for fully personalized tissue implants of any type will allow us to regenerate every organ with minimal risk of immune response," said Dvir.