Tissue engineering is a radically new concept for the treatment of disease and injury. It involves the use of the technologies of molecular and cell biology, combined with those of advanced materials science and processing, in order to produce tissue regeneration in situations where evolution has determined that adult humans no longer have innate powers of regeneration. Tissue engineering, however, along with some other aspects of regenerative medicine such as gene therapy, has yet to deliver real successes in spite of a considerable science base and investment in the commercial infrastructure. This article addresses the underlying issues of benefit and risk in tissue engineering in an attempt to understand why this situation has developed.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00232-9