Beyond donors: regenerative medicine
Many chronic diseases can only be treated or cured by organ transplantation, but globally there is a shortage of donor organs; the medical field is in desperate need of a renewable source of cells and tissue for transplantation therapy. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have the potential to resolve the transplantation crisis caused by this shortage.
The first International Conference on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (ICTERM) in South Africa organised in 2014 by Professor Motaung, assistant dean: postgraduate studies, research and innovation in the Faculty of Science at Tshwane University of Technology was a huge success. Following on this, the Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences at the Vaal University of Technology will be co-hosting the second ICTERM with Professor Keolebogile Motaung of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the Faculty of Science of the Tshwane University of Technology and Professor Antonios Mikos of Rice University, Houston, Texas from July 26-30 2017 in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa.
The future of regenerative medicine in Africa
The second ICTERM conference special will also serve as a platform to launch the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) in Africa. Currently there is TERMIS-Europe, TERMIS-Asia and TERMIS-USA. It will be the ideal occasion to launch TERMIS-Africa.
Tissue engineering is the science of designing and manufacturing new tissues for the functional restoration of impaired organs and replacement of lost body parts due to cancer, disease, and trauma. In layman’s term it is the creation of human spare parts.
The main purpose of this conference is to bring together distinguished scientists and clinicians from all over the world to discuss thematic areas of regenerative medicine. The conference will foster stronger interactions among leading research experts, aspiring scientists and postgraduate students from South African universities, as well as biotechnology companies and national laboratories.
The conference will showcase VUT and the Vaal region to the world and will serve as a platform for local researchers and students to initiate collaborative relationships within Africa and globally. It is hoped that ICTERM 2017 will make a meaningful contribution to the existing knowledge base in this field and motivate talented young people to pursue the field of tissue engineering. The talks will cover basic studies through to translational efforts and clinical trials and will address novel topics.
During the five-day conference, renowned experts in the field will discuss recent advances, challenges and breakthroughs in the field of tissue engineering. The conference will feature keynote addresses, a number of plenary sessions, invited talks and contributed lectures focusing on specific views of tissue engineering. There will also be several poster sessions, and the two best poster presentations will be selected for an award.
The main goal of TERMIS is to bring together communities and individuals engaged or interested in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. It is also meant to promote education, research and significant commitment to bringing individuals and communities closer to key Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (TERM) professionals, to support mutual understanding of the field by contributing to the ultimate care of patients.
The development of TERM is promoted worldwide academically and industrially by different associations and partnerships. Africa, for unknown reasons, is the only continent with its science and research neglected and kept in the dark. Many African countries are at war and are regularly threatened with economic hardship. War victims are often faced with severe physical disability due to bone fracture and tissue loss. The continent is yet to obtain therapeutic assurance for the replacement of wounded and ruptured tissues due to war, accidents and other environmental disasters.
Many initiatives with the objective of using tissue engineering methods for the treatment of injuries caused by wars have been established in the US and Europe. These institutions include the Orthopaedic Extremity Trauma Research Program, the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. There is a pressing need for such establishments on the African continent so as to participate fully in the investigation of basic and applied questions of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
Professor Keolebogile Motaung is assistant dean of postgraduate studies, research and innovation at Tshwane University of Technology