Background: Cell-based transplantation, tissue engineering and gene therapy are important therapeutic strategies for present and future regenerative medicine. One challenge is to present the target cells in a suitable matrix to allow the cells to survive the wound contraction, tissue repair, and remodeling in certain tissues. Recently, functional biomaterial research has been directed towards the development of improved scaffolds and new drug delivery systems for regenerative medicine.
Materials and methods: A literature survey was performed in basic and clinic publications relevant to the therapeutic potential of chitosan and its derivatives in regenerative medicine. In this review the functional properties and potential applications of chitosan and its derivatives in regenerative medicine are presented and discussed.
Results: Chitosan can be obtained by alkaline deacetylation of chitin and is found to be a natural-based nontoxic, biocompatible, and biodegradable polymer with anti-microbial activity. Chitosan and its derivatives could accelerate wound healing by enhancing the functions of inflammatory cells and repairing cells. Recent studies further indicated that chitosan and its derivatives also are novel scaffold materials for tissue engineering and are-promising non-viral vectors for gene delivery.
Conclusions: Regenerative medicine has entered a new era with the development of modern science and technology. The novel properties of chitosan make it a versatile biomaterial for cell therapy, tissue engineering and gene therapy. It is hoped that these diverse approaches for regenerative medicine will translate from "bench to bedside" in the future.