Many believe that tissue engineering provides the best and nearest hope to Empty Nose Syndrome sufferers.
“Tissue engineering utilizes living cells as engineering materials. Examples include using living fibroblasts in skin replacement or repair, cartilage repaired with living chondrocytes, or other types of cells used in other ways.”
“Cells became available as engineering materials when scientists at Geron Corp. discovered how to extend telomeres in 1998, producing immortalized cell lines. Before this, laboratory cultures of healthy, noncancerous mammalian cells would only divide a fixed number of times, up to the Hayflick limit.”
“Cells are often implanted or ‘seeded’ into an artificial structure capable of supporting three-dimensional tissue formation. These structures, typically called scaffolds, are often critical, both ex vivo as well as in vivo, to recapitulating the in vivo milieu and allowing cells to influence their own microenvironments. Scaffolds usually serve at least one of the following purposes:
- Allow cell attachment and migration
- Deliver and retain cells and biochemical factors
- Enable diffusion of vital cell nutrients and expressed products
- Exert certain mechanical and biological influences to modify the behaviour of the cell phase”
In a recent discussion on the Empty Nose Syndrome forum http://guest.6.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=3046, a Chinese ENS sufferer offered information about an effort in Shanghai, China to restore turbinate tissue through tissue engineering. According to the study he cites, “The tissue engineered inferior turbinate looked like
normal inferior turbinate.” He goes on to say “they just use Medpor to implant into IT instead of a piece of bone.” (IT stands for inferior turbinate. The loss of inferior turbinate tissue is considered more damaging than the loss of middle or superior turbinate tissue, and more predisposing to Empty Nose Syndrome.) “Medpor is a kind of material produced artificially and is considered with a potential risk to [sic] be extrude, but obviously, Medpor will remain stable size & shape without being absorbed.”
Resorption is a problem with existing methods of turbinate tissue replacement.
The Chinese effort is a step in the right direction. A more wholly natural tissue replacement would constitute a further step, and it appears that the company Acell may have developed one:
“ACell, Inc. has developed a proprietary line of plastic surgery and wound care devices utilizing an advanced regenerative medicine technology. ACell’s MatriStem technology is a naturally occurring bioscaffold derived from porcine tissue. When MatriStem is placed into a surgical site or wound, it is resorbed and replaced with new native tissue where scar tissue would normally be expected.”
“MatriStem Plastic Surgery Matrix is intended for implantation to reinforce soft tissue where weakness exists, including, but not limited to the following procedures: tissue and body wall repair.”
Stem cells are sometimes used in tissue engineering. They are being used in the Shanghai study. Thus, the two technologies may overlap, and both are part of the field of regenerative medicine.