Published on October 1st, 2013 | by Martha Kent0
Harvard researchers have created the first biological tissue with transistors and wires
We have witnessed many cases where the line between science and science fiction became thin and imperceptible due to amazing discoveries made by scientists all over the world. Last year, a team of bioengineering at Harvard University, USA have created the first cyborg tissue by combining a 3D network of nano wires and human tissue.
The cyborg tissue created by the Harvard scientists is a combination of living cells and electronic components that can function in a perfect balance, normally, like any normal tissue of our body. This discovery can be used in future monitoring of the living systems, since the transistors and nanowires used in the cyborg tissue form a network of sensors that allow a computer or phone to know exactly what happens with biological cells of this mixed tissue.
In order to achieve the “cyborg tissue”, bioengineers started from a 3D network composed of collagen, which encourages biological cells to grow around it. Scientists have taken common collagen found in any body of living creatures and they filled it with nanowires and transistors. This altered network was the perfect place for normal cells to grow, embedding the existing nanowires.
The successful bioengineering discovery will have a powerful impact in future tech and medical fields. Just to demonstrate one of many possible applications of this discovery, Harvard scientists managed to create bioengineered heart tissue that is perfectly functional. In this situation, the role of electronics inside the tissue is to measure contractions of biological cells, ie to monitor real-time heart rate. They have also created bioengineered tissue for laboratory mice for further testing and applications.
This technology will be used by researchers and clinicians to monitor organs or tissues, and among the first beneficiaries would be those who receive an organ transplant. Also, it could be used in the pharmaceutical industry to learn how new discovered drugs interact with human tissue at cellular level.