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We review the available evidence for regeneration of adult organs of very diverse nature and examine the applicability of simple rules that can be used to summarize these treatments. In the field of regenerative medicine no widely accepted paradigm is currently available that can guide formulation of new theories on the mechanism of regeneration in adults and open new directions for improved regeneration outcomes. The four rules have emerged from multiyear quantitative studies with skin and peripheral nerve regeneration using scaffold libraries based on a simple, well-defined collagen scaffold. These largely quantitative rules distinguish sharply between spontaneously regenerative and nonregenerative tissues, select the two reactants that are required for regeneration, recognize the essential modification of the wound healing process that must be realized prior to regeneration, and identify three structural features of scaffolds that are required for regenerative activity. The combined evidence points at certain requirements for the structure of a collagen scaffold with regenerative activity. An active scaffold emerges as a temporarily insoluble collagen surface, equipped with sufficient ligands for integrins of contractile cells, that inhibits wound contraction while also serving as a topographic template for new stroma synthesis. The four rules, based on studies with just two organs (skin and peripheral nerves), are now viewed in the context of ongoing studies using scaffolds based on decellularized matrices, which are mostly based on collagen. Decellularized matrices have been used during the past few years to regenerate, in whole or in part, the urethra, the abdominal wall, the Achilles tendon, the bladder, the trachea and other organs in several animal models and occasionally in humans. Although these acellular matrices are distinctly different from simple collagen scaffolds, and the methods used by the investigators are still evolving, the results obtained are shown to be broadly consistent with the predictions of the four rules. Future use or adaptations of these largely quantitative rules could account more satisfactorily for problems, such as imperfect function of regenerated organs, that are currently encountered by researchers. It could also further the explanation of the mechanism of regeneration at the cellular and molecular level. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ioannis V Yannas. Emerging rules for inducing organ regeneration. Biomaterials. 2013 Jan;34(2):321-30

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PMID: 23092865

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