The emergence of BioMEMS fabrication technologies such as soft lithography, micromolding and assembly of 3D structures, and biodegradable microfluidics, are already making significant contributions to the field of regenerative medicine. Over the past decade, BioMEMS have evolved from early silicon laboratory devices to polymer-based structures and even biodegradable constructs suitable for a range of ex vivo and in vivo applications. These systems are still in the early stages of development, but the long-term potential of the technology promises to enable breakthroughs in health care challenges ranging from the systemic toxicity of drugs to the organ shortage. Ex vivo systems for organ assist applications are emerging for the liver, kidney and lung, and the precision and scalability of BioMEMS fabrication techniques offer the promise of dramatic improvements in device performance and patient outcomes.
Ultimately, the greatest benefit from BioMEMS technologies will be realized in applications for implantable devices and systems. Principal advantages include the extreme levels of achievable miniaturization, integration of multiple functions such as delivery, sensing and closed loop control, and the ability of precision microscale and nanoscale features to reproduce the cellular microenvironment to sustain long-term functionality of engineered tissues. Drug delivery systems based on BioMEMS technologies are enabling local, programmable control over drug concentrations and pharmacokinetics for a broad spectrum of conditions and target organs. BioMEMS fabrication methods are also being applied to the development of engineered tissues for applications such as wound healing, microvascular networks and bioartificial organs. Here we review recent progress in BioMEMS-based drug delivery systems, engineered tissue constructs and organ assist devices for a range of ex vivo and in vivo applications in regenerative medicine.