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Researchers develop method to grow artificial tissues with embedded nanoscale sensors
Date:8/26/2012

Boston, Mass.A multi-institutional research team has developed a method for embedding networks of biocompatible nanoscale wires within engineered tissues. These networkswhich mark the first time that electronics and tissue have been truly merged in 3Dallow direct tissue sensing and potentially stimulation, a potential boon for development of engineered tissues that incorporate capabilities for monitoring and stimulation, and of devices for screening new drugs.

The researcher teamled by Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, in the Department of Anesthesia at Boston Children's Hospital; Charles M. Lieber, PhD, at Harvard University; and Robert Langer, ScD, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyreported their work online on August 26 in Nature Materials.

One of the major challenges in developing bioengineered tissues is creating systems to sense what is going on (e.g., chemically, electrically) within a tissue after it has been grown and/or implanted. Similarly, researchers have struggled to develop methods to directly stimulate engineered tissues and measure cellular reactions.

"In the body, the autonomic nervous system keeps track of pH, chemistry, oxygen and other factors, and triggers responses as needed," Kohane explained. "We need to be able to mimic the kind of intrinsic feedback loops the body has evolved in order to maintain fine control at the cellular and tissue level."

With the autonomic nervous system as inspiration, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kohane lab, Bozhi Tian, PhD, and his collaborators built mesh-like networks of nanoscale silicon wiresabout 80 nm in diametershaped like flat planes or in a "cotton-candy"-like reticular conformation. The networks were porous enough to allow the team to seed them with cells and encourage those cells to grow in 3D cultures.

"Previous efforts to create bioengineered sensing networks have focused on 2D layouts, where culture cells grow on top of electronic components,
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Contact: Keri Stedman
keri.stedman@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-2110
Boston Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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