Supported by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Econmonic Development Workforce Leadership Grant #C000004309
The purpose of the middle school camp experience is to expose students to science content, techniques, and social impact by means of an exciting and relevant biomedical revolution. It is hoped that students will: 1) increase their science process skills across the disciplines; 2) enhance their appreciation of science and technology; 3) become more aware of southwestern Pennsylvania’role in cutting-edge biomedical science; 4) become more aware of educational and career opportunities.
The basic, underlying theme of the summer camp is focused on healing and enhancing the human body. More specifically, the structural aspects of the body, including bone, muscle, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments is explored in the context of human performance (athletics, etc.). Damage to structural tissues is to be explained, followed by an examination of current and future methods of addressing those medical problems. Principles of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine will provide the basis for the underlying science and potential new therapies. In addition to stressing the relevance of this new biomedical venture to students, themselves, as consumers, activities and discussions are included to make students aware of potential careers in this expanding regional field. Lastly, potential roadblocks to these novel therapies will be addressed, including the role of the human immune system, socio-economic considerations, and possible bioethical issues.
Within this disc, you will find resource materials to provide instruction regarding incorporation of the various camp activities. In addition to hands-on, inquiry based-activities, field trips and live presentations may also be included. See contact section for information on how you might include a field trip component or demos in your own tissue engineering summer camp.
Broadly defined, tissue engineering is the development and manipulation of laboratory-grown molecules, cells, tissues, or organs to replace or support the function of defective or injured body parts.
Although cells have been cultured, or grown, outside the body for many years, the possibility of growing complex, three-dimensional tissues - literally replicating the design and function of human tissue - is a recent development. The intricacies of this process require input from many types of scientists, including the problem solving expertise of engineers, hence the name tissue engineering.
Tissue engineering crosses numerous medical and technical specialties. Cell biologists, molecular biologists, biomaterial engineers, computer-assisted designers, microscopic imaging specialists, robotics engineers, and developers of equipment such as bioreactors, where tissues are grown and nurtured, are all involved in the process of tissue engineering. Tissue engineers in the United States and abroad have set out to grow virtually every type of human tissue - liver, bone, muscle, cartilage, blood vessels, heart muscles, nerves, pancreatic islets, and more. Commercially produced skin is already available for use in treating patients with diabetic ulcers and burns. Many current medical therapies may be improved upon by tissue engineering with significant financial savings.
Tissue Engineering is a highly interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of biology and engineering to the development of viable substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve the function of human tissues. This complex challenge requires the coordinated efforts of biologists, chemists, physicists, engineers, material scientists, computer specialists, physicians, and medical support staff. This form of therapy differs from standard drug therapy in that the engineered tissue becomes integrated within the patient, affording a potentially permanent and specific cure of the disease state.
Three general approaches have been adopted for the creation of new tissue:1. Design and grow human tissues outside of the body for later implantation to repair or replace diseased tissues. The most common example is the skin graft that is used for treatment of burns. Skin graft replacements have been grown and used clinically for over 10 years. 2. Implantation of cell-containing or cell-free devices that induce the regeneration of functional human tissues. This approach relies on the purification and large-scale production of appropriate “signal” molecules, like growth factors, to assist in biomaterial-guided tissue regeneration. Novel polymers are being created and assembled into three-dimensional configurations, to which cells attached and grow to reconstitute tissues. An example is the biomaterial matrix used to promote bone for periodontal disease.
3. The development of external or internal devices containing human tissues designed to replace the function of diseased internal This approach involves isolating cells from the body, using such techniques as stem cell therapy, placing them on or within structural matrices, and implanting the new system inside or outside the body. Examples include repair of bone, muscle, tendon, cartilage, as well as cell-line vascular grafts and artificial liver being developed in Pittsburgh.