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Scientists use cells to fold origami

posted 2 Jan 2013, 13:17 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Jan 2013, 13:17 ]

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using cells to fold microscopic origami shapes. The scientists hope that in the future the use of tissue cells to fold structures will lead to next generation medical devices and allow for the engineering of biological tissue.

TOKYOJAPAN (SHOJI TAKEUCHI / UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO) -  Using the tip of glass pointer, scientists are activating these microscopic sheets of plastic to fold into 3 dimensional shapes, a process they call micro-origami.

The researchers grew connective tissue cells on the seams of origami designs, allowing them to harness the traction force of the cells to fold the plastic sheets into different shapes.

In another experiment, the researchers used rat heart cells to shape these tiny origami structures.

The team hope that using the power of cells to fold 3 dimensional shapes could one day lead to the engineering of artificial tissue like blood vessels... as well as lay the ground work for new types of medical devices like stents, that could be activated to fold into shape inside the human body. The scientists published their findings in the PLOS Onescience Journal in December.