The only curative treatment option for patients with end-stage organ failure is transplantation. Organ engineering offers an alternative to traditional transplantation that may address the critical shortage of donor organs and eliminate the need for recipient immunosuppression. Organ engineering may be accomplished through the use of scaffold – support structures that contain the architecture of an organ. As organs are exceedingly complex, creating an organ scaffold is a difficult task; however, organ scaffolds can be derived through a process known as decellularization, which is the mechanical, chemical and/or enzymatic removal of cells from a tissue or organ. Through decellularization of xenogenic (animal) organs, biocompatible extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds can be produced that retain the complex macroscopic and microscopic structure and composition of the native organ ECM. These 3D ECM scaffolds are ideal for engineering human organs.

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