Here you can see the nano grid (brown) and the tissue © Nat Mater
Reading aloud US researchers have developed a new way to create living tissue with a built-in sensor network. To do this, they let cells grow along a kind of scaffolding of nanowires and sensors, so that they completely enclosed the wires. The nanoelectronics embedded in the fabric allow direct measurement of chemical and electrical processes. With this, the scientists have succeeded in doing something that has already been worked on for a long time: the first complete fusion of living tissue and electronics. It has long been a goal of science to create systems that autonomously recognize what is going on in the tissue. For this purpose, methods have been used to stimulate a specifically bred tissue and measure reactions in the cells. However: "The possibilities we currently have for monitoring and interacting with living cell systems in response to their responses are limited, " explains Charles Lieber, one of the authors of the study. "So far we have been able to use electrodes to measure cell or tissue activity, but we damaged the cells at the same time."

Bozhi Tian from Harvard University and his colleagues have now come a step further: they have built up a lattice-like network of silicon wires with a diameter of 80 nanometers. This network was very loose, so scientists could soak cells in, so to speak. From these, cell cultures then grew in 3D format. The researchers used cultured heart and nerve cells as starting material. Through the network, researchers were able to detect electrical signals emanating from the cells and measure changes in those signals. They also succeeded in using this method to create blood vessels with an electronic network that could measure the pH inside and outside the vessel.

For the first time, this method of incorporating technology into tissue has not affected cell viability or activity. ? With this new technology we can work for the first time on the same level with the biological system without disturbing it. Ultimately, it gives us the opportunity to unify tissue and electronics in ways that make it difficult to pinpoint where the tissue ends and the technology begins, ? says Lieber. The scientist first sees application for cyborg tissue in the pharmaceutical industry. This would allow researchers to study exactly how a new drug works in the cell and tissue. It is also conceivable that certain patients in this way, changes in the body are observed and automated systems can then respond directly, for example, with electrical stimuli or the administration of the required drugs.

Bozhi Tian (Harvard University) et al .: Nature Materials; doi: 10.1038 / NMAT3404 © - Gesa Seidel advertisement


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