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Nanowires Used To Make Cyborg Tissue

Nanowires Used To Make Cyborg Tissue

U.S. researchers create cyborg tissue by embedding transistors made from silicon nanowires…

U.S. scientists have invented a type of cyborg tissue by creating a 3D network of transistors and cells, which acts as a scaffold on which human tissue can be grown.

The ‘cyborg’ tissue will first see use a platform on which to test the effects of new drugs on human tissues, but could potentially be applied to connecting prosthetics devices directly to the nervous system.

The scaffold is made from epoxy embedded with silicon nanowires that can detect the minuet electrical signals generated by cells within the tissue. These signals can then be analyzed to monitor health and progress by giving feedback from the cellular signals that occur in response to drugs.

 Nanowires Used To Make Cyborg Tissue

Silicon Nanowire Scaffold Embedded In Tissue To Monitor Health

Image Credit: Charles M. Lieber and Daniel S. Kohane, 2012.

The researchers have also developed bio-engineered blood vessels embedded with the wires, which could detect pH changes that happen both in and outside the vessels.

Tissue scaffolds have been previously used to grow artificial blood vessels and organs, and while some of this research had looked into incorporating electrical sensors, they had been limited to 2D flat planes. Developed by Charles Lieber, a professor of chemistry at Harvard University, together with MIT professor Robert Langer, the new method is the first time researchers have managed to create such structure in 3D.

Lieber said:

The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited…
We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin,

So far the researchers have managed to successfully grow cardiac, neural and muscle tissue. They were also able to monitor the heart tissues cell response to a stimulant called noradrenaline.

Langer, who has published several studies on nanowires, artificial tissue and heart cells, says it could be a step toward engineered muscle:

“It brings us one step closer to someday creating a tissue-engineered heart, and it shows how novel nanomaterials can play a role in this field,”

The study was published in the Aug. 26 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

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