Qmed Staff

August 28, 2013

2 Min Read
Inspired by Spider Silk, Researchers Pioneer New Tissue Engineering Technique

Few materials have captured researchers' imagination as much as spider silk, which is incredibly strong and has other novel properties such as high heat conductivity. Last year, researchers announced progress in using the material in photonic chips.

Researchers at University College London discovered a new way to build body parts using the material. By looking to nature, researchers created a new "spider silk" method of manufacturing artificial blood vessels. Researchers hope that the new technique could produce better body parts for transplant operations.

Spider silk has long fascinated material scientists.

Spider web

To test the new technique, researchers created murine blood vessels. Using a technique known as electrospinning, researchers believe that the new technology could overcome some of the challenges associated with traditional scaffolding-based methods.

"Like a spider weaves its web we are able to draw out this continuous fiber of polymer and cells and weave a web. We could make one as thick as a mattress and the cells will be embedded right through it," notes Dr. Suwan Jayasinge, a researcher who worked on the project.

To create the blood vessels, researchers cultured a specialized broth of cardiovascular mouse cells. This broth also contained a polymer to help act as a scaffold. Through the use of a 10,000 volt electric needle, researchers pulled a fiber out of the broth.

Electrospinning works by cross-stitching fibers onto a specialized rotating cylinder. This rotating cylinder is partially submerged in an aqueous solution with nutrients. This allows the "spun" fibers to stay alive. For the study, researchers were able to produce blood vessels with three distinct layers.

Image from Vector Goods

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