Artificial tissue scaffolds have become common for various therapies, and are widely studied in clinical research. A persistent hope of clinicians and researchers has been to one day see sensors and electronics built into these scaffolds to provide futuristic capabilities like monitoring of the status of implants and controlling the release of drugs implanted within.
A team of researchers from Harvard and MIT are paving the way to that future by using “macroporous, flexible and free-standing nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds (nanoES), and their hybrids with synthetic or natural biomaterials,” to sense various characteristics of the tissue they’re implanted in, according to a newly published study in Nature Materials. They grew cardiac, neural and muscle tissue around these electronic scaffolds and were able to probe the living environment in real time.
Specifically, the team showed that the technology provides “monitoring of the local electrical activity within 3D nanoES/cardiomyocyte constructs, the response of 3D-nanoES-based neural and cardiac tissue models to drugs, and distinct pH changes inside and outside tubular vascular smooth muscle constructs.” It’s not as ubiquitous as email, yet, but someday more people will check their eScaffolds.
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Abstract in Nature Materials: Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues