As tissue engineering and regenerative medicine are staged to enter the medical care setting, the integration of these newly formed tissues with themselves and the surrounding natural environment of the treated patients is of paramount importance. Although cells alone have undoubtedly obtained a certain success as therapies for a number of different diseases, it is still unclear whether they form new tissues or they stimulate the local cells to restore tissue continuity. In both cases, the resulting outcome is often poorly connected with the surrounding environment and functionality is impaired after few months. True integration can be achieved by designing smart templates made of biomaterials that not only act as scaffolds for cells to adhere and form new tissue, but also provide cues and signals to promote functional tissue connections. Criteria to engineer biomaterials for integration and methodologies used to assess effective connection with host tissues are reviewed.

Read full text on ScienceDirect

DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70089-0