Current advances in regenerative therapies have been influenced by the study of embryonic development, stem cell biology and tissue engineering technologies. The ultimate goal of regenerative therapy is to develop fully functional bioengineered tissues that can replace lost or damaged organs following disease, injury or aging.

According to a recent news release, a research group led by Professor Takashi Tsuji (Professor in the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, and Director of Organ Technologies Inc.) has provided a proof-of-concept for bioengineered mature organ replacement as a regenerative therapy.

Dr. Tsuji's research group (M. Ogawa et al.) reports the fully functional regeneration of a salivary gland that reproduces the morphogenesis induced by reciprocal epithelial and mesenchymal interactions through the orthotopic transplantation of a bioengineered salivary gland germ as a regenerative organ replacement therapy. The bioengineered germ developed into a mature gland through acinar formations with the myoepithelium and innervation.

As the release states, the bioengineered submandibular gland produced saliva in response to the administration of pilocarpine and gustatory stimulation by citrate, protected against oral bacterial infection and restored normal swallowing in a salivary gland defect mouse model. Thus, this study provides a proof-of-concept for bioengineered salivary gland regeneration as a potential treatment for xerostomia.

Further studies on the identification of stem cells as a source for the reconstitution of bioengineered salivary gland germs are warranted.

This research was performed in collaboration with Professor Tetsuhiko Tachikawa (Department of Oral Pathology, Showa University School of Dentistry, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN).