This review focuses on a somewhat unexplored strand of regenerative medicine, that is in situ tissue engineering. In this approach manufactured scaffolds are implanted in the injured region for regeneration within the patient. The scaffold is designed to attract cells to the required volume of regeneration to subsequently proliferate, differentiate, and as a consequence develop tissue within the scaffold which in time will degrade leaving just the regenerated tissue. This review highlights the wealth of information available from studies of ex-situ tissue engineering about the selection of materials for scaffolds. It is clear that there are great opportunities for the use of additive manufacturing to prepare complex personalized scaffolds and we speculate that by building on this knowledge and technology, the development of in situ tissue engineering could rapidly increase. Ex-situ tissue engineering is handicapped by the need to develop the tissue in a bioreactor where the conditions, however optimized, may not be optimum for accelerated growth and maintenance of the cell function. We identify that in both methodologies the prospect of tissue regeneration has created much promise but delivered little outside the scope of laboratory-based experiments. We propose that the design of the scaffolds and the materials selected remain at the heart of developments in this field and there is a clear need for predictive modelling which can be used in the design and optimization of materials and scaffolds.
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