Technology

Can a Bolt of Lightning Create New Transplant Organs?

DiscoblogBy Boonsri DickinsonAug 26, 2009 8:50 PM

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Growing artificial organs has been easy—it’s figuring out a way to supply blood to them that’s the hard part. Scientists have been trying to make blood vessels the same way they created synthetic computer chips. But producing artificial channels this way can be costly and inefficient. Enter Texas A&M University researchers, who have figured out a way to use lightning bolts to create channels that look a lot like our circulatory system. The Discovery Channel reports:

The artificial organs begin as clear blocks of biodegradable plastic about the size of an inch-thick stack of Post-It notes. An electron beam fills the block with electricity, then the scientists drive nails into either end of the plastic block.

While the pattern displayed in the plastic block is not even close to being an actual working blood vessel, it’s an impressive start. Someday, the researchers hope this plastic tunnel system can help grow implant cells that will mature into a fully-implantable organ. Related Content: Discoblog: Get A New Organ From A Sheep? DISCOVER: Grow Your Own Organs

Image: flickr/ adijr

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