Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a way to use sound to create cellular scaffolding for tissue engineering, a unique approach that could help overcome one of regenerative medicine's significant obstacles. The researchers will present their technique at the 168th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), held October 27-31, 2014, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel.
The development of the new technique started with somewhat of a serendipitous discovery. The University of Washington team had been studying boiling histotripsy -– a technique that uses millisecond-long bursts of high-intensity ultrasound waves to break apart tissue -– as a method to eliminate cancerous tumors by liquefying them with ultrasound waves. After the sound waves destroy the tumors, the body should eliminate them as cellular waste. When the researchers examined these 'decellularized' tissues, however, they were surprised by what the boiling left intact.
"In some of our experiments, we discovered that some of the stromal tissue and vasculature was being left behind," said Yak-Nam Wang, a senior engineer at the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory. "So we had the idea about using this to decellularize tissues for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine."