Today, surgical intervention remains the mainstay of treatment to intervene upon a multitude of skeletal deficits and defects attributable to congenital malformations, oncologic resection, pathologic degenerative bone destruction, and post-traumatic loss. Despite this significant demand, the tools with which surgeons remain equipped are plagued with a surfeit of inadequacies, often resulting in less than ideal patient outcomes. The failings of current techniques largely arise secondary to their inability to produce a regenerate which closely resembles lost tissue. As such, focus has shifted to the potential of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based skeletal tissue engineering. The successful development of such techniques would represent a paradigm shift from current approaches, carrying with it the potential to regenerate tissues which mimic the form and function of endogenous bone. Lessons learned from investigations probing the endogenous regenerative capacity of skeletal tissues have provided direction to early studies investigating the osteogenic potential of MSC. Additionally, increasing attention is being turned to the role of targeted molecular manipulations in augmenting MSC osteogenesis, as well as the development of an ideal scaffold ''vehicle'' with which to deliver progenitor cells. The following discussion presents the authors' current working knowledge regarding these critical aspects of MSC application in cell-based skeletal tissue engineering strategies, as well as provides insight towards what future steps must be taken to make their clinical translation a reality.
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