Bio Tissue With Embedded Wires. One Step Towards Cyborgs?
Researchers from MIT, Harvard and Boston Children’s hospital have succeeded in growing three-dimensional samples of artificial tissues entrenched deeply within nano-electronics. That’s a breakthrough technology as on one hand nanoscale sensors could very closely monitor cellular activity; and on the other, the activity of the cells could be locally regulated by electrical signals. The researchers have created scaffolding of 80 nanometers in diameter nanowires ganged up in porous disorder and coated with a biocompatible material. The breaches between the signal-transmitting nanowires are then filled with the cell cultures forming a single structure. With the technology created, researchers can work effectively at the cellular level without damaging the cells and with the capability to monitor cells from any point within the tissue. In preliminary trials, researchers grew heart and nerve cells and measured their responses to cardio- and neurostimulating drugs; then bioengineered blood vessels with nanowiring networks were constructed and changes in their pH measured. The technique might be used to construct therapeutic and diagnostic devices, drug screening lab-on-a-chip tissues, and even cyborg-like tissues, sensing changes in the body and responding to them.