Modern medicine is quite good at replacing the mechanical functions of the body with prosthetics – which have been in development for the past 4000 years – but research into creating synthetic tissues that are biochemically functional is just beginning. Sarah Heilshorn, PhD, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, shares her research on engineering materials that mimic those found in our own bodies in this Stanford+Connects video, “Materials that Heal.”
Approximately 50 percent of the human body can be recreated; what are missing are systems that depend upon cells, such as the nervous or gastro-intestinal system. Scientists can keep cells alive in a Petri dish, but making them into functional tissue requires some kind of material to serve as an interactive cell-scaffolding. Heilshorn describes how her lab is producing protein-based synthetic material that effectively interacts with cells on a chemical and biological level. Watch the video to learn more.
Heilshorn heads the Heilshorn Biomaterials Research Group at Stanford.
Previously: The "new frontier" of synthetic biology, Drew Endy discusses the potential to program life and future of genetic engineering at TEDxStanford and Drew Endy discusses developing rewritable digital data storage in DNA