Imagine you could inject a special, electrically conductive fluid into a rose, which then spreads out through the plant and grows into it. Imagine creating an entire garden or forest of cyborg plants that act as a gigantic, biological computer network.
Well, imagine no more – scientists from Sweden’s Linköping University have successfully managed to perform the former, while looking forward to the latter in the future.
While researchers continue working hard to make readily available 3D printed organs a reality, we know that it likely won’t happen, at least not on a massively available and low-cost scale, for quite some time. However, 3D printing technology is often used in surgery these days, from surgical guides to implants to patient-specific medical models. Recently, a team developed patient-specific, cost-effective 3D printed liver models, to help doctors with their preoperative plans before performing difficult laparoscopic resections.
Two University of Oxford biomedical researchers are calling for robots to be built with real human tissue, and they say the technology is there if we only choose to develop it. Writing in Science Robotics, Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr argue that humanoid robots could be the exact tool we need to create muscle and tendon grafts that actually work.
Right now, tissue engineering relies on bioreactors to grow sheets of cells. These machines often look like large fish tanks, filled with a rich soup of nutrients and chemicals that cells need to grow on a specialized trellis. The problem, explain Mouthuy and Carr, is that bioreactors currently “fail to mimic the real mechanical environment for cells.” In other words, human cells in muscles and tendons grow while being stretched and moved around on our skeletons. Without experiencing these natural stresses, the tissue grafts produced by researchers often have a broad range of structural problems and low cell counts.
IBM’s Watson can beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy, tell you about your city, and dream up recipes for delectable delicacies. Watson is now doing something even more important than all previous capabilities combined — it’s finally getting closer to becoming your doctor.
3D-printed widgets and other medical novelties clearly illustrate the potential of 3D printing. They are set to radically change the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. With its extreme versatility and inherent ability to customize products, many experts believe that 3D printing will finally blow the field of affordable personalized medicine wide open. Yet so far it’s been mostly hope — and plenty of hype — with little sign that the radical technology might actually become a medical mainstay.
“We’re considering the possibility that you can write software for living things with bio-code (aka DNA).”
May was a good month for miracles. During these first weeks in May, two separate teams working at two separate institutions announced that when it comes to creating life from scratch, well, there are a couple of new gods in town.
For Jack Newman, a scientist, creating a new life-form has become as simple as typing out a DNA sequence on his laptop. He clicks “send.” And a few yards away in the laboratory, robotic arms mix together some compounds to produce the desired cells.
The quest started with trying to make better yogurt.
Bacteria that uses a tiny molecular machine to kill attacking viruses could change the way that scientists edit the DNA of plants, animals and fungi, revolutionizing genetic engineering. The protein, called Cas9, is quite simply a way to more accurately cut a piece of DNA.