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Helping to build artificial human tissue - tissue engineering

From the IAEA Division of Human Health, Applied Radiation Biology and Radiotherapy Section

Artificial human skin (epidermal) model. (Photo: O. Belyakov, IAEA. MatTek corporation models)

Loss of tissue is one of the most devastating results of medical conditions such as burns, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and traumatic accidents involving the loss of whole or partial body parts.

Radiation technologies can help to build artificial human tissues by providing, for example, polymeric scaffolds along which cells grow into fully functional layers of skin or other components of the human body. These tissues can be used to cover wounds, treat burns, and replace dead flesh. Sophisticated models could even replace heart muscle or pieces of bone lost due to infarcts or accidents.

Artificial tissues are also used extensively in radiation biology for experiments as substitution for animal studies and to look closely at the effects of ionising radiation.

The IAEA is helping Member States develop and use tissue engineering technology, a relatively new area focused on the development of new tissue created from stem cells and synthetically produced biomaterials (including polymers originating from natural materials).

An engineered human lung (tracheal/ bronchial) tissue. (Photo: O. Belyakov, IAEA. MatTek corporation models)