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National Tissue Engineering Research Center

Brief Introduction

Founded in 2005, the National Tissue Engineering Research Center of China (NTEC) is located in the Zizhu Science Zone of Minhang District, Shanghai. Covering an area of 37 acreages, it consists of the Research Department, the Manufacturing Department and a hospital for the application of tissue-engineered products, with the total construction area over 10,000m2. Aiming at creating a life science center recognized at the world-wide level in the 21st century, NTEC possesses excellent scientific research potential. Professor Yilin Cao, the Chief Scientist of National '973' Project Foundation, was nominated as the director of NTEC. More than 20 projects in the field of tissue engineering, stem cell, biomaterials, and other medical science, including the National '973' Project, '863' Project, and the Natural Science Foundation Project of China, are now under investigation in NTEC. The principal purpose of NTEC is to apply tissue engineering techniques to repair the damaged tissue/organs and to restore their impaired function and shape. Faculty members in NTEC have received high evaluation on their achievements by domestic and foreign authorities in the basic and clinical research of bone, cartilage, skin, tendon, vessel and cornea tissue engineering.



  • Director: Prof. Yilin Cao
  • Director of Academic Committee: Prof. Yilin Cao
  • Team Members
  • Prof. Lei Cui, Associate Profs. Li Zhao, Lian Cen and Guangpeng Liu

    Research Fields

  • Tissue Engineered skin
  •   Proliferative human keratinocytes were isolated from human foreskins after circumcision with 0.24U/ml DispaseⅡand 0.05%Trypsin-0.53mM EDTA. The keratinocytes were seeded directly onto the scaffolds of CGM (chitosan-gelatin membrane) Cell culture was continued with medium changes every other day, until the cells reached 90% confluency on the CGM after which the artificial epidermal was ready for clinical application, such as the treatment of skin defects and the diabetic skin ulcers.

  • Tissue Engineered Bone
  • Tissue engineering has become a new approach for repairing bone defects. A tissue-engineered bone graft that is composed of seed cells and a suitable scaffold is able to repair bone defects in vivo by osteoblastic differentiation, cell proliferation, and matrix production of implanted cells as well as gradual degradation of the scaffold. Recent animal studies have demonstrated the feasibility of generating tissue engineered craniofacial bone, and its clinical application is also ongoing.

  • Tissue Engineered Cartilage
  • Repair of full thickness articular cartilage defects remains a major challenge in the field of orthopedic surgery because of the unsatisfactory outcomes of current surgical strategies, mainly chondrectomy, subchondral drilling, periosteal or perichonrial resurfacing and transplantation of autochondrocytes. As an alternative to those current therapies, tissue engineering has been demonstrated to own promising therapeutic advantages in restoring both the structure and function of the damaged articular cartilage. Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) are the commonly used seed cells for cartilage engineering. In our previous study, we have successfully repaired articular cartilage defects by transplanting engineered cartilage using chondrogenic induced BMSCs in a porcine model. Compared with the engineered cartilage using mature chondrocytes as seed cells, the one with BMSCs not only led to the regeneration of cartilage layer but also to the subchondral bone, indicating that the implanted stem cells underwent both chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation in vivo.

  • Tissue Engineered Tendon
  • Tendon engineering offers a promising approach for repairing tendon defect without the need to harvest autologous tendon. To test the idea, various studies have been performed in the models of hen, rabbit, pig or even mouse to prove the feasibility of tendon regeneration in vivo. As previously reported, different types of seed cells have been proposed for tendon/ligament engineering in order to replace tenocytes or ligament fibroblasts and these cell types include bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs), skin fibroblasts and even embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells (ES-MSC). Our group has previously reported the success in using dermal fibroblasts as the cell source to engineer tendon in vivo in a porcine model, which offers a promising approach of using an alternative cell source for tendon engineering and repair in vivo. One of the important aims of tendon engineering is to provide off-the-shelf engineered tendon products, so that patients can be benefited from immediately available tendon grafts. To achieve this goal, we had previously explored the possibility of in vitro tendon engineering by using hen tenocytes as the cell source and the result showed that neo-tendon tissue could be generated by culturing the cell-scaffold constructs on a U-shape spring that provided a static strain.

    Research Achievements

  • The research and application of key techniques in constructing the tissue-engineered tissues was awarded the National Technique and Invention Prize in 2008 (second rank).
  • The in vitro constructing, cryopreservation and clinical application of tissue-engineered skin was awarded the Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Prize in 2006 (first rank).
  • The basic research of tissue-engineered tendon was awarded the Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Prize in 2004 (first rank).


  • The project of repairing goat segmental mandibular defects with vascularized tissue-engineered bone, in cooperation with Excellence in Tissue Engineering Center, Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, USA.
  • The project of tissue-engineered tendon in cooperation with London University, USA.