A new material developed at Harvard and MIT adds a distinctly cybernetic element to the science of tissue engineering. The 3-D mesh of transistors and cells, which can support tissue growth while monitoring its health and progress, could even be a step toward prosthetic devices that connect directly to the nervous system.
A flower petal, a heart and a caterpillar are all feats of self-engineering, morphing and deforming their soft tissues into a specific shape without the help of any scaffold or control framework. Their cells swell and stretch during the growth process, and the rest of the structure changes shape accordingly.
Tissue engineering and tissue healing have a common complication — it’s difficult to build new blood vessels throughout the rebuilt skin, but vasculature is required to keep the skin alive. This is especially problematic for victims of severe burns. A new customized sugary gel substance can work wonders to re-grow skin and the associated blood vessels, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
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.
California researchers have created a tissue-engineered small-scale small intestine in mice, a breakthrough for regenerative medicine and a step toward growing new intestines for humans. The process re-creates all the layers of cells that make up a functioning intestine.
Back in 2009, we told you about the skin factory concept at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, where scientists hoped to mass-produce skin at low cost for clinical testing and other uses. Now it’s come online, with robots squeezing pink solution into pipettes and turning out sheets of human flesh. Der Spiegel took a look inside.
Researchers in Japan have grown a retina from mouse embryonic stem cells in a lab, but this isn’t just another incremental advance in tissue engineering. Scientists claim their “retina in a dish” is by no small degree the most complex biological tissue yet engineered.
Updated: One of PopSci’s favorite regenerative medicine specialists, Anthony Atala, printed a biocompatible model of a human kidney on stage at the 2011 TED conference Thursday, in a technique that could someday be used to create new organs from a patient’s own tissue rather than relying on donated organs.
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.
MIT researchers have made assembling artificial organs look like child's play by devising a novel approach to tissue engineering that encapsulates living cells in polymer cubes and assembles them like Lego blocks. The method, which requires no highly specialized equipment, could overcome major obstacles in artificial organ manufacture, making it possible to assemble complex 3-D structures out of living tissue cells.
In a breakthrough that could lead to significant advances in materials science and tissue engineering, researchers at the U. of British Colombia have engineered a solid biomaterial that mimics the elasticity of muscle. Using artificial proteins, the team was able to recreate the molecular structure of the protein titin, which plays a vital role in making our muscles the versatile tissues that they are.
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.