Micromasonry 'Biological Legos' Building New Organs

One of the problems with building your own organs from scratch is getting the 3-dimensional structure right. MIT-Harvard researchers are working on biological legos to grow a 3D organ.

The new technique, called micromasonry, involves tiny blobs of a gel-like material. Each tiny blob contains individual cells; the blobs stick together in a desired structure.


( half sphere of polymer cubes built by MIT-Harvard researchers )

A variety of techniques have been evolved for printing two-dimensional strips of organic matter (see Hungry? Print Yourself Some Bacon and Cultured Meat Straight From The Vat for two approaches).

"That works, but it often lacks a controlled microarchitecture," says Ali Khademhosseini, assistant professor at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), is also an assistant professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "You don't get tissues with the same complexity as normal tissues."

Gomez Fernandez and Khademhosseini have used their technique to build tiny tubes that could function as capillaries, which could provide an engineered organ with its blood supply.

The HST researchers built their "biological Legos" by encapsulating cells within a polymer called polyethylene glycol (PEG), which has many medical uses. Their version of the polymer is a liquid that becomes a gel when illuminated, so when the PEG-coated cells are exposed to light, the polymer hardens and encases the cells in cubes with side lengths ranging from 100 to 500 millionths of a meter.

Once the cells are in cube form, they can be arranged in specific shapes using templates made of PDMS, a silicon-based polymer used in many medical devices. Both template and cell cubes are coated again with the PEG polymer, which acts as a glue that holds the cubes together as they pack themselves tightly onto the scaffold surface.

After the cubes are arranged properly, they are illuminated again, and the liquid holding the cubes together solidifies. When the template is removed, the cubes hold their new structure.

SF fans have waited a long time for artificially grown organs; Larry Niven wrote about the idea in his 1968 novel A Gift From Earth.

From Science Daily.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/16/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...' - Cordwainer Smith, 1958.

PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training For 'Downloading Skills'
'I know kung-fu.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.