Recreating an environment that supports and promotes fundamental homeostatic mechanisms is a significant challenge in tissue engineering. Optimizing cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and angiogenesis, and providing suitable stromal support and signalling cues are keys to successfully generating clinically useful tissues. Interestingly, those components are often subverted in the cancer setting, where aberrant angiogenesis, cellular proliferation, cell signalling and resistance to apoptosis drive malignant growth. In contrast to tissue engineering, identifying and inhibiting those pathways is a major challenge in cancer research. The recent discovery of adult tissue-specific stem cells has had a major impact on both tissue engineering and cancer research. The unique properties of these cells and their role in tissue and organ repair and regeneration hold great potential for engineering tissue-specific constructs. The emerging body of evidence implicating stem cells and progenitor cells as the source of oncogenic transformation prompts caution when using these cells for tissue-engineering purposes. While tissue engineering and cancer research may be considered as opposed fields of research with regard to their proclaimed goals, the compelling overlap in fundamental pathways underlying these processes suggests that cross-disciplinary research will benefit both fields. In this review article, tissue engineering and cancer research are brought together and explored with regard to discoveries that may be of mutual benefit
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