60 seconds on origami organs

Materials World magazine
,
1 Sep 2017

What are they? 

Scientists have created what they call bioactive ‘tissue papers’, made of materials derived from pig and cow organs. 

Who is involved? 

The work was undertaken at Northwestern University USA’s Feinberg School of Medicine, with results published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal. Ramille Shah, Assistant Professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, commented, ‘This new class of biomaterials has potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, as well as drug discovery and therapeutics.’ 

How can they be used?

Researchers are optimistic that biomaterials could support natural hormone production in young cancer patients, who, according to Teresa Woodruff, Director of the Oncofertility Consortium and the Thomas J. Watkins Memorial Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg, ‘often lose their hormone function as a result of chemotherapy and radiation’. The ‘tissue papers’ could also improve the wound healing process. 

How are they novel? 

The invention came about by accident. Adam Jakus, another author of the paper, was attempting to create 3D-printable ovary ink, when some was spilt on the floor. It then formed a dry sheet-like structure. Jakus said, ‘I knew right then I could make large amounts of bioactive materials from other organs. The light bulb went on in my head – I could do this with other organs.' It’s also claimed that the material behaves like paper and can be folded, cut and sutured even when wet.