Innovation by Surgeon| Volume 143, ISSUE 2, P181-183, February 2008

Tissue engineering: From bench to bedside via commercialization

  • Joseph P. Vacanti
    Reprint requests: Joseph P. Vacanti, MD, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Warren 1151, Boston MA 02114.
    Department of Pediatric Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass
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      In our culture, from initial diagnosis through imaging and therapy, every aspect of our care involves the process of commercialization. The diagnostic blood tests we use, the imaging modalities that have been revolutionized, every IV, every operation, every surgical tool, all have been provided through for-profit industry. The 2 broad categories of care include therapeutic drugs and therapeutic devices, and both have been created by huge and growing industries. The central questions, therefore, are these: “What is the role of academic innovation in the process of patient care improvement, and how does it relate to commercialization?” It is mandatory that every academic innovation that leads to routine patient care must first be produced commercially. All of us should thus view this partnership as a necessary and positive relationship and so provide the very important protections to it that prevent harm to patients receiving therapy. We should avoid the attitude that partnering with industry is a necessary evil, or that it is inherently contaminated. Our work in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is an example of early participation by the commercial sector, specifically those companies willing to take enormous risks. This paper briefly recounts our personal history relative to our work in the field, and the lessons learned from our evolving and continuing commercial relationships.
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