Live Wire: New Creation of Cyborg Tissue – Half Living Cells and Half Electronics – photo by pasukaru76
As science and technology continues to advance, a new discovery of cyborg tissue creates a new dynamic as the tissue is half living cells and half electronics.
According to the New Scientist, scientists at Harvard University led by Charles Lieber have created cyborg tissue using wires and transistors that spy on each cell’s electrical impulses. These types of tissue have been used for neurons, muscle and blood vessels. Because of their wide range of uses, these cyborg tissues can be used for drug testing and even serve as the basis for more biological versions of existing implants.
According to Lieber, ”It allows one to effectively blur the boundary between electronic, inorganic systems and organic, biological ones.” Lieber’s team created 3D networks of conductive nanowires studded with silicon sensors. Understanding that the most crucial component of the project would be the wires, the team developed flexible and extremely small wiring to avoid impeding the growth of tissue. The team created a scaffold using these components along with biological materials such as collagen.
The team then experimented using rat’s, and found that they could grow rat neurons, heart cells and muscle in these hybrid meshes. When they experimented on the rat’s heart cells, they discovered that the cells started to contract just like normal cells. After the success with the rats, the team then managed to grow an entire blood vessel about 1.5 centimetres long from human cells, with wires snaking through it. The most notable aspect of growing the blood vessel with the wires is that the team was able to detect electrical patterns that they say could give clues to inflammation, whether tissue has undergone changes that make it prone to tumor formation or suggest impending heart disease.
Lieber’s colleague Daniel Kohane stated that, “You could use these things to directly measure the effects of drugs in synthetically grown human tissue without ever having to test them in an actual human being.” He also thinks that these tissue patches could be added to the surface of a heart to monitor for problems.
Live Wire: New Creation of Cyborg Tissue – Half Living Cells and Half Electronics.