If the best new inno­va­tions are often twists on older ideas, it shouldn’t be sur­prising that one of the most inven­tive tech­niques being explored in the bur­geoning field of tissue engi­neering is based on the ancient art of paper folding.

Backed by a $2 mil­lion National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion grant, Carol Liv­er­more, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, is trying to figure out how to apply novel folding pat­terns inspired by origami to fold 2D tis­sues into func­tioning 3D organs.

Pre­vious attempts at full-​​scale organ engi­neering have yielded homoge­nous clumps of cells that some­what resemble organs, but lack the com­plex and nuanced bio­chem­ical func­tioning afforded by their nat­u­rally occur­ring coun­ter­parts. Liv­er­more and her team believe that their origami approach might change that. By making het­ero­ge­neous arrange­ments of cells on scaf­folds of glass or polymer mate­rial, and then folding the com­plex 2D lay­outs as if they were paper, they believe it will be pos­sible to make “bio­com­pat­ible” syn­thetic organs.

 

Read the article at Motherboard →