Regeneration after trauma or injury is a fascinating and complex process. Some species are more capable of regenerating different body parts, tissues or organs while others possess only very limited regenerative abilities. Hydra for example, a freshwater polyp, can regenerate its entire body. Polyps are the early stage of what is commonly known as a jellyfish. After injuries, Hydra can rearrange its existing tissue which leads to a full regeneration of the lost parts. We humans in contrast can only dream about regenerating whole body parts. Tissues or organs can to a certain extend be regenerated, but mammals and thus humans have bad regenerative capabilities compared to other animal groups. What is biologically possible and what can be supported by engineered materials is part of many research projects all around the world.
In December 2006, the Austrian Cluster for Tissue Regeneration was founded to pool and further develop expertise on tissue regeneration throughout different scientific institutions in Austria. Founded in part by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatology and research groups from the Medical University of Vienna, the Bernhard Gottlieb University Dental Clinic and the Red Cross of Upper Austria, the Cluster established a broad network of know-how. The objective is to better understand soft tissue, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bone and neuro regeneration and thereby enhance therapy through new and improved treatment methods. Research assignments arise from treatment necessities and proven benefits to patients. Over the following years additional know-how was brought to the Cluster such as 3D printing with photopolymers, cell sorting and immortalization as well as simulation in silico, thus extending its list of members to twelve leading scientific institutions by 2018.
Through the establishment of the Cluster, clinical experts for bone and joint regeneration as well as neuro regeneration and specialists in imaging techniques are woven into one collective research fabric. The interdisciplinary teams include biochemists, chemists, biophysicists, molecular biologists, biotechnologists, electronic technicians and veterinarians and their assistants.