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New coating turns ordinary glass into superglass

August 5, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

A new transparent, bio-inspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported. The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices.

Light that moves and molds gels

August 1, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

Some animals, like the octopus and cuttlefish, transform their shape based on environment. For decades, researchers have worked toward mimicking similar biological responses in non-living organisms, as it would have significant implications in the medical arena. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Pittsburgh have demonstrated such a biomimetic response using hydrogels.

Insect-inspired super rubber moves toward practical uses in medicine

July 31, 2013 10:52 am | News | Comments

A recent publication evaluates the latest advances toward using a protein called resilin in nanosprings, biorubbers, biosensors and other applications. This remarkable protein is rubber-like and enables dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects to flap their wings, jump and chirp. Resilin could have major potential uses in medicine.

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Just hanging on: Why mussels are so good at it

July 23, 2013 12:37 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unlike barnacles, which cement themselves tightly to surfaces, mussels dangle more loosely from these surfaces, attached by a collection of fine filaments known as byssus threads. This approach lets the creatures drift further out into the water, where they can absorb nutrients. Despite the fragile appearance of these threads, they can withstand impact forces that are nine times greater than forces exerted by stretching in one direction.

Injectable “smart sponge” hold promise for controlled drug delivery

July 17, 2013 10:18 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a drug delivery technique for diabetes treatment in which a sponge-like material surrounds an insulin core. The sponge expands and contracts in response to blood sugar levels to release insulin as needed. The technique could also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

Scientists create first shape-memory plastics able to reverse deformation

July 17, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

Until now, polymers with temperature-controlled shape memory could only change form once. Biomaterial researchers have recently developed plastics that can repeatedly change from one shape to another and then back again when temperatures fluctuate within a selected range. The material is dubbed “polymer actuators” by its creators in Germany.

Steering stem cells with magnets

July 16, 2013 2:43 pm | News | Comments

By feeding stem cells tiny particles made of magnetized iron oxide, scientists at Emory Univ. and Georgia Tech have used magnets to attract the cells to a particular location in the body after intravenous injection. The method could become a tool for directing stem cells’ healing powers to treat conditions such as heart disease or vascular disease.

Princeton researchers create "bionic ear"

July 8, 2013 7:17 am | News | Comments

With a 3-D printer, a petri dish and some cells from a cow, Princeton Univ. researchers are growing synthetic ears that can receive—and transmit—sound. The 3-D ear is not designed to replace a human one, though; the research is meant to explore a new method of combining electronics with biological material.

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Underwater propulsion supplied with the help of a 3-D printer

July 1, 2013 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Using the octopus as inspiration, researchers in Germany have built a silent propulsion system for boats and water sport devices. The actuator works by sucking water into an elastomer ball, which is then contracted by a hydraulic piston. The most compelling feature is that the designers can produce the system in a single step with a 3-D printer.

Silver could promote colonization of bacteria on medical devices

July 1, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

Biomaterials are susceptible to microbial colonization, which is why silver is often added to reduce the adhesion rate of bacteria. However, a recent study by researchers in Portugal suggests that—in one material—increasing levels of silver may indirectly promote bacterial adhesion instead of decrease it.

Printing artificial bone

June 17, 2013 10:23 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

Researchers working to design new materials that are durable, lightweight and environmentally sustainable are increasingly looking to bone for inspiration. While researchers have come up with hierarchical structures in the design of new materials, going from a computer model to the production of physical artifacts has been a persistent challenge. Now researchers have developed an approach that allows them to turn their designs into reality.

Surgeons implant bioengineered vein

June 6, 2013 2:19 pm | News | Comments

In a first-of-its-kind operation in the United States, a team of doctors at Duke University Hospital helped create a bioengineered blood vessel and transplanted it into the arm of a patient with end-stage kidney disease. The procedure was the first U.S. clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the bioengineered blood vein.

Human scabs serve as inspiration for new bandage

May 29, 2013 10:34 am | News | Comments

Human scabs have become the model for development of an advanced wound dressing material that shows promise for speeding the healing process, scientists are reporting. The team explains that scabs are a perfect natural dressing material for wounds. In addition to preventing further bleeding, scabs protect against infection and recruit the new cells needed for healing.

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Engineered biomaterial could improve success of medical implants

May 14, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

It’s a familiar scenario—a patient receives a medical implant and days later, the body attacks the artificial valve or device, causing complications to an already compromised system. Expensive medical devices and surgeries often are thwarted by the body’s natural response to attack something in the tissue that appears foreign. Now, University of Washington engineers have demonstrated in mice a way to prevent this sort of response.

Bovine blood keeps gold nanoparticles stable

May 14, 2013 10:35 am | News | Comments

According to recent research at Rice University, bovine serum albumin (BSA) forms a protein “corona” around gold nanoparticles that keeps them from aggregating, particularly in high-salt environments like seawater. The discovery could lead to improved biomedical applications and contribute to projects that use nanoparticles in harsh environments.

Microgravity nanomedicine experiment may go to Space Station

May 14, 2013 10:00 am | News | Comments

Nearly all drugs taken orally spike in concentration, decay quickly, and are only at their peak effectiveness for a short period of time. working on a solution―nanocapsules implanted beneath the skin that release pharmaceutical drugs through a nanochannel membrane and into the body at a sustained, steady rate. To design better nanochannels for a given drug, the team is hoping to use the International Space Station.

Building protocells from inorganic nanoparticles

May 10, 2013 1:05 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. have led a new enquiry into how extremely small particles of silica (sand) can be used to design and construct artificial protocells in the laboratory. By attaching a thin polymer layer to the external surface of an artificial inorganic protocell built from silica nanoparticles, the scientists have potentially the problem of controlling membrane permeability.

Biomaterial shows promise for Type 1 diabetes treatment

May 8, 2013 3:13 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have made a significant first step with newly engineered biomaterials for cell transplantation that could help lead to a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes, which affects about 3 million Americans. Georgia Institute of Technology engineers and Emory University clinicians have successfully engrafted insulin-producing cells into a diabetic mouse model, reversing diabetic symptoms in the animal in as little as 10 days.

Engineers build living patch for damaged hearts

May 7, 2013 7:56 am | News | Comments

Duke University biomedical engineers have grown 3D human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. This advancement could be important in serving as a platform for testing new heart disease medicines. The “heart patch” grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it “squeezes” appropriately.

Scientists build a living patch for damaged hearts

May 6, 2013 12:24 pm | News | Comments

Duke University biomedical engineers have grown three-dimensional human heart muscle that acts just like natural tissue. The "heart patch" grown in the laboratory from human cells overcomes two major obstacles facing cell-based therapies—the patch conducts electricity at about the same speed as natural heart cells and it "squeezes" appropriately.  

Zinc: The perfect material for bioabsorbable stents?

May 1, 2013 9:49 am | by Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. Studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based bioabsorbable stents, but iron rusts and magnesium dissolves too fast. Recent research shows that a certain type of zinc alloy might be the answer.

Material loss protects teeth against fatigue failure

May 1, 2013 9:07 am | News | Comments

Computer simulations conducted in Germany have shown that the reduction of natural dental wear might be the main cause for widely spread non-carius cervical lesions—the loss of enamel and dentine at the base of the crown—in our teeth. The discovery was made by examining the biomechanical behavior of teeth using finite element analysis methods typically applied to engineering problems.

Antibacterial hydrogel offers protection from stubborn infections

April 24, 2013 5:00 pm | News | Comments

Coating medical supplies with an antimicrobial material is one approach that bioengineers are using to combat the increasing spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria. A research team in Singapore has now developed a highly effective antimicrobial coating based on cationic polymers. The coating can be applied to medical equipment, such as catheters.

GUMBOS technology promises new drugs, electronic devices

April 10, 2013 1:06 pm | News | Comments

Mention a breakthrough involving "gumbo" technology in this city, and people think of a new twist on The Local Dish, the stew that's the quintessence of southern Louisiana cooking. But scientific presentations at a meeting of the world's largest scientific society this week are focusing on what may be an advance in developing GUMBOS-based materials with far-reaching medical, electronic and other uses.

Scientists develop biomaterial that mimics squid beak

April 3, 2013 11:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers led by scientists at Case Western Reserve University have turned to an unlikely model to make medical devices safer and more comfortable—a squid's beak. Many medical implants require hard materials that have to connect to or pass through soft body tissue. This mechanical mismatch leads to problems such as skin breakdown at abdominal feeding tubes in stroke patients and where wires pass through the chest to power assistive heart pumps. Enter the squid.

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