Theme 5: Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine

Therapeutic targets: How ambitious should we be?

Progress in biomedical science usually occurs in small increments. Likewise, and despite the inevitable exceptions, improvements in practical/clinical application tend to be incremental. This does not, however, preclude the adoption of aspirational targets i.e. considering ‘what could be’, as in fig 10:

A photo of a scarred human back, labelled \

Fig 10 An aspirational therapeutic target: manufactured skin full sheet for the human back

Minimum performance criteria would need to be specified. These would relate to, for example, mechanical properties [nonlinearity, anisotropicity, inhomogeneity], clinical utility, therapeutic efficacy including cosmetic effect, shelf life and storage characteristics, and ‘ordering’-to-delivery duration.

In many jurisdictions, including New Zealand, the multidisciplinary assets necessary for handling such a daunting task already exist. The main challenge is likely to be less about the science and more about the ability to pull the relevant expertise together under a commonly agreed goal and with the necessary funding.