Lab-grown organs that can be transplanted into patients to replace damaged tissue, eliminating the need for organ-donor lists, are still the stuff of science fiction, However, engineers and scientists in labs around the world are taking steps toward turning that concept into a reality.
One recent development comes from chemical engineers at the Univ. of Toronto. They have created what they refer to as a person-on-a-chip — a chip embedded with small, intricate scaffolds for growing human tissue that more closely mimics a person’s body than petri dishes. Although it is not yet ready for growing implantable organs, the AngioChip has other potential applications, such as drug testing.
The team previously created the Biowire — a silk suture that promotes the growth of stem-cell-derived human cardiomyocytes. Once grown along the length of the silk suture, the cardiomyocytes are stimulated with several cycles of electric pulses, which cause them to enlarge and connect together into heart tissue.
The new development goes a step further by enabling the growth of three-dimensional tissues with integrated blood vessels.
“It’s a fully three-dimensional structure complete with...
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