Tissue engineering is a radical new approach to the repair and replacement of damaged or diseased body tissues. Cells, often seeded into or shaped around a biomaterial matrix, are used to replace damaged or diseased tissue or stimulate repair by the body. Because it is an area of tremendous focus and achievement, there is a risk that technical developments will outstrip the capacity of existing regulatory frameworks to cope with these novel products. Australia, the USA, and Canada are somewhat ahead of Japan in establishing a feasible regulatory approach. All four are currently ahead of the European Union (EU), but individual European countries and the EU as a whole are catching up. However, for the foreseeable future, it may still be possible in certain European countries to use autologous cell therapies in hospitals and market allogeneic tissue-engineered products, especially skin replacements, without regulatory control.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00235-4