From intestines to tracheas, tissue engineers are building a handful of new body parts — but progress on larger organs has been slow. This is mainly because tissues need nutrients to stay alive, and they need blood vessels to deliver those nutrients.
A lopsided self-propelled micromotor could drive itself through blood vessels, making repairs or delivering drugs along the route, according to researchers at Penn State. The small particles leach out a trail of material, like a microspider spinning a thread.
Tissue engineers have come a long way in recent years, fabricating human tissue Lego blocks, artificial kidney cells, sight-restoring bio-synthetic corneas and more. But no one has figured out how to grow large amounts of transplantable tissue in the lab, because it’s too difficult to keep it alive. Texas researchers may have an answer: Use a common laxative to grow some blood vessels.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.