Developmental Engineering: A new paradigm for the design and manufacturing of cell based products Part II. From genes to networks: tissue engineering from the viewpoint of systems biology and network science
Tissue Engineering. Part B. Reviews vol:15 issue:4 pages:395-422
The field of tissue engineering is moving toward a new concept of "in vitro biomimetics of in vivo tissue development". In part I of this series 1, we proposed a theoretical framework integrating the concepts of developmental biology with those of process design to provide the rules for the design of biomimetic processes. We named this methodology "developmental engineering" to emphasize that it is not the tissue but the process of in vitro tissue development that has to be engineered. To formulate the process design rules in a rigorous way that will allow a computational design we should refer to mathematical methods to model the biological process taking place in vitro. Tissue functions cannot be attributed to individual molecules but rather to complex interactions between the numerous components of a cell and interactions between cells in a tissue that form a network. For tissue engineering to advance to the level of a technologically-driven discipline amenable to well-established principles of process engineering, a scientifically rigorous formulation is needed of the general design rules so that the behavior of networks of genes, proteins, or cells that govern the unfolding of developmental processes could be related to the design parameters. Now that sufficient experimental data exist to construct plausible mathematical models of many biological control circuits, explicit hypotheses can be evaluated using computational approaches to facilitate process design. Recent progress in systems biology has shown that the empirical concepts of developmental biology that we used in part I to extract the rules of biomimetic process design can be expressed in rigorous mathematical terms. This allows the accurate characterization of manufacturing processes in tissue engineering as well as the properties of the artificial tissues themselves. In addition, network science has recently shown that the behavior of biological networks strongly depends on their topology and has developed the necessary concepts and methods to describe it, allowing therefore a deeper understanding of the behavior of networks during biomimetic processes. These advances thus open the door to a transition for tissue engineering from a substantially empirical endeavor to a technology-based discipline comparable to other branches of engineering.