Tengion's technology has the potential to create new human tissues and organs (neo-tissues and neo-organs) by using the patient's own (autologous) cells. By contrast, organ transplantation from other donors (allogenic transplants) can be associated with rejection and the adverse effects of immunosuppression.
Tengion's patented technology integrates multiple breakthroughs in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. While it has long been held that the body contains cells with regenerative power, Tengion is the first company to be able to identify these cells and harness them to create a specific neo-organ, with the potential to create a variety of neo-organs and tissues on a commercial scale. These cells, which come from the patient, are genetically committed to becoming a specific cell type (e.g., a bladder cell), but they are not yet fully differentiated.
Tengion's organ regeneration process begins when a surgeon sends the patient's biopsy to Tengion. Tengion's scientists identify and multiply the patient's own healthy progenitor cells, and then place these cells on a structure that is shaped like the needed organ or tissue (a bioabsorbable scaffold). The resulting neo-organ becomes ready for implantation after a period of maturation. The surgeon then implants the neo-organ in the patient's body, where it is designed to integrate with the rest of the body and become functional. By contrast, the current therapy for urinary bladder reconstruction requires the surgeon to harvest gastrointestinal tissue from the patient. The harvest and use of gastrointestinal tissue in the urinary tract is associated with acute and chronic risks and complications.
The diagram illustrates the development of a Tengion neo-organ.