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Imagine you wanted to grow a blood vessel or kidney or liver outside the body. How would you get all the cells to stick together and form the correct three-dimensional structure?
That is just one of the many challenges of tissue engineering, a field with the broad goal of repairing or improving tissues that are damaged due to degeneration, disease, trauma or aging. Often, it can be quite cumbersome and expensive to develop new combinations of engineered materials and molecules that support the creation of artificial tissues outside of the human body.
Humans - Lives - Range - Materials - Tissue
But as humans go about our daily lives, there is a diverse range of natural and man-made materials that are overlooked in tissue engineering. Recent successes use materials like tofu, eggshells and paper for a range of therapies including conditions that involve our heart valves, bones, cartilage and nerves.
We are engineers and focus on developing functional biomaterials to repair and regenerate tissues. Because there aren't enough tissues to transplant or implant in all the patients who need it, one of the strategies we use is to take unconventional approaches and utilize materials from nature or everyday life. Why? Because we want to make engineering tissues and organs simple, accessible and inexpensive so that our materials can be used by people in countries that have fewer resources as well as the ones with access to the best equipment and resources.
Research - Group - Goals - Items - Day
In the Camci-Unal Research Group one of our goals is to look at the items we see or throw out every day and reimagine how they might be useful for growing three-dimensional tissues in the lab that could later be transplanted into people.
For instance, eggshells might appear as just leftover waste after cooking an omelet. But in our lab, we repurpose eggshells to fabricate tissue templates, also known as scaffolds, that promote...
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