Scientists are working on a prototype system composed of integrated circuit #d technology that they say will help create human tissues for people with congenital defects or serious internal organ damage.
Draper Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) built the prototype using what they called "an automated "layer-by-layer" assembly method- usually found within the electronics packing industry to build integrated circuits.
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Instead of building mobile phones, this technology has been used to stack "porous, flexible, biodegradable elastomer sheets," which the researchers have used to create 3D scaffolds on which tissues can be grown. Such guide cells to grow in precise patterns, in the way that highly specialized tissues such as heart and skeletal muscle grow. The scaffolds are flexible enough, the researchers say, to be implanted directly into an injured part of the body in order to guide cellular growth at that site, the researchers said.
Having developed their 3D scaffolding technique, the research team was able to grow contractile heart tissue from rat heart cells, the researchers said.
Before this work, researchers intent on growing human tissues lacked the ability to precisely control the 3-D pore structure of scaffolds in many types of polymers, instead relying on 2-dimensional templates, random 3D pore structures, or amorphous gelatin. While relatively simple organs like bladders can be grown using such methods, for more complex tissues like the heart or the brain a 3-D structure to guide specialized cell growth patterns is necessary. "Scaffolds that guide 3-D cellular arrangements can enable the fabrication of tissues large enough to be of clinical relevance, and now we have developed a new tool to help do this," said Lisa Freed, the principal investigator for the project at Draper Laboratory
Draper researchers stated that this work is driven by "the shortage of human tissue in medicine," explaining that this technology could be implemented to facilitate the growth or regrowth of specific tissues in people with congenital defects or traumatic damage to their tissues or organs.
The flexible scaffolds could be implanted at the site of the injury to guide cellular growth, afterwards dissolving harmlessly into the body. Biomedical researchers can also take advantage of these scaffolds for purposes including studying tissue development and identifying key cues that prompt a blob of heart cells to grow into a fully functional, beating heart muscle, for example, the researchers stated.
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