Tissue engineering has emerged as a promising alternative for the reconstitution of lost or damaged organs and tissues, circumventing the complications associated with traditional transplants. Tissue engineers attempt to repair or regenerate damaged tissue by using engineered tissue substitutes that can sustain functionality during regeneration and eventually integrate into the host tissue. The traditional tissue-engineering paradigm combines isolated cells with appropriate bioactive agents in a biomaterial scaffold. It is widely recognized that scaffold architecture can profoundly influence the behavior of cells on tissue-engineering constructs.
Today, during the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, scientists are reporting on High Internal Phase Emulsion (HIPE) polymerization, which affords tremendous control of scaffold morphology. HIPEs can be readily molded into the irregular shapes often required in craniofacial reconstruction and cured in situ to a rigid foam. They have demonstrated that emulsion templating can be used to generate rigid, biodegradable scaffolds with interconnected pores. These scaffolds are of particular interest in craniofacial tissue engineering, due to the rigidity of the resulting foams and the ease of fabrication.