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Harvard scientists grow human cells onto nanowire scaffold to form 'cyborg' skin


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Growing human tissue is old hat, but being able to measure activity inside flesh is harder -- any electrical probing tends to damage the cells. But a new breakthrough from Harvard researchers has produced the first "cyborg" tissue, created by embedding functional, biocompatible nanowires into lab-grown flesh. In a process similar to making microchips, the wires and a surrounding organic mesh are etched onto a substrate, which is then dissolved, leaving a flexible mesh. Groups of those meshes are formed into a 3D shape, then seeded with cell cultures, which grow to fill in the lattice to create the final system. Scientists were able to detect signals from heart and nerve cell electro-flesh made this way, allowing them to measure changes in response to certain drugs. In the near-term, that could allow pharmaceutical researchers to better study drug interaction, and one day such tissue might be implanted in a live person, allowing treatment or diagnosis. So, would that make you a cyborg or just bionic? We'll let others sort that one out.

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