Magnified 3D rendering of protein nanofabric: Credit: Adam Feinberg, Harvard University Bioengineers at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new nanofabric technology that can be used to regenerate heart and other human tissues.
With their instructions coming from nature's fabrication of such structures as skin, the scientists created proteins that can assemble themselves in a matrix on a thermosensitive surface. The specific protein mix can be customized depending upon what it is needed to do and can be removed from, let's say the heart, by altering the fabric's temperature.
The study, "Surface-Initiated Assembly of Protein Nanofabrics," published in the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters, is a major breakthrough in the field of protein nanofabrics, because current methods of creating regenerating tissue use synthetic polymers that can cause negative side effects when they degrade in the body. But the new method, designed at the Wyss Institute, uses the same proteins as Nanofabric can withstand small tear without failing: Credit: Adam Feinberg, Harvard Universitynormal tissues and can degrade when no longer needed without causing ill effects.
Experimenting with the new procedure, researchers produced strands of heart muscle similar to the papillary muscle, a development that could lead to the use of protein nanofabrics to rebuild many areas of the heart.
"With nanofabrics, we can control thread count, orientation, and composition, and that capability allows us to create novel tissue engineering scaffolds that direct regeneration, said co-author of the study Kit Parker. It also enables us to exploit the nanoscale properties of these proteins in new ways beyond medical applications."
"Beyond medical applications" will include creating fabric with extraordinary capabilities, such as form-fitting clothing, bandages that accelerate healing, and industrial fabrics. Stretchable fabrics may be developed from this technology that can
expand as much as 1,500 percent. That welcome innovation will make
paying extra for carry-on bags a moot point. Your travel wardrobe will all
fit into your pocket or purse!