Regenerative medicine is not an all or nothing field of research. There are many useful waypoints on the road to being able to grow perfectly formed organs, blood vessels, muscle, and other tissues to order and from a patient’s own cells. The partial results and half-way houses include a range of potential therapies and technologies that will be a great improvement over the present clinical state of the art.
Roadmaps in this sort of research tend to look like this:
Gain knowledge of the underlying mechanisms: cell signaling, stem cell life cycles, and so forth.
Use this new knowledge to better understand the workings of existing therapies, and perhaps optimize them a little.
Produce new tools for diagnosis and testing procedures based on what is now known.
Develop a helpful therapy that meets some fraction of the end goal: healing damage in an organ rather than growing a new organ; growing cells to populate a bioartificial system that carries out some of an organ’s function, for use in dialysis for example; and so forth.
Build poor versions of the end goal and find uses for them. The ability to grow small masses of tissue that can carry out some of the functions of a liver or a kidney may be very helpful as implants for those suffering organ failure, for example.
Finally, the end goal: organs grown from a patient’s cells that are good enough for transplant.