The potential rewards are well worth the effort. Estimates in the US put the number of patients on transplant waiting lists at over 75,000. Recent figures from the United Network for Organ Sharing indicate that around 5% of these die while waiting for a transplant organ to become available. Interest and investment levels are high—the US National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program has poured millions of dollars into tissue engineering product development and the National Institute of Health set up a working group last year. Several biotech companies have sprung up to meet demand, such as Organogenesis and Advanced Tissue Sciences (ATS). Gail Naughton, president of ATS, was named the 2000 National Inventor of the Year for her pioneering work in this field.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(01)80037-7