There are currently more than 122,000 people on the U.S. waiting list for an organ transplant and nowhere near enough donors to meet their needs. 

The future of medicine is now — and it's regenerative. The ultimate goal of regenerative medicine is to develop organs and tissues in the laboratory to help solve this shortage. 

Regenerative medicine harnesses the power of stem cells, tissue engineering and biomaterials to replace, regenerate or repair diseased cells, tissues and organs. It holds the potential to treat, manage and perhaps even cure some of the most crippling and expensive diseases in the world.

Levels of organ complexity

Scientists have successfully engineered and implanted organs from the first three levels in humans.

  • Level I - Flat structures
    The least difficult are flat structures such as the skin.

  • Level II - Tubular structures
    Tubular structures that act as conduits, such as blood vessels and urine tubes.

  • Level III - Hollow organs
    The next level is hollow organs, such as the bladder.

  • Level IV - Solid organs
    Solid organs such as the heart, kidney, pancreas and liver are very dense with cells and require a rich supply of oxygen to survive.

The bigger picture

Many industry experts believe that one day organ donation will be an unnecessary concept of the past. And their vision is only getting bigger:

 

Despite seemingly infinite possibilities, it is much too soon to predict whether we’ll be successful growing all organs and whether the need for organ donation can eventually be eliminated.