Scientists have created paper-like biomaterials from organs such as the ovaries, uterus, heart, liver and muscle that are thin and flexible enough to fold into origami birds and other structures.
These new “tissue paper” materials retain the cellular properties of the organ, so they could help the body regenerate the relevant organ tissue to aid healing of wounds, scientists said.
[Lead study author Adam] Jakus and his colleagues took a pig or cow organ and used detergents to strip it of its cells. This left behind the extracellular matrix of the organ — the scaffold of proteins that helps give an organ its structure.
The scientists then freeze-dried this organ material, ground it into a powder and mixed it with a solvent to create an ink. When films of this ink were dried, they became flat sheets of paper-like materials.
Each sheet of tissue paper contains residual biological molecules and protein structures from its source organs. In experiments, this tissue paper could support the growth of adult human stem cells.
“It is really amazing that meat and animal byproducts like a kidney, liver, heart and uterus can be transformed into paper-like biomaterials that can potentially regenerate and restore function to tissues and organs,” Jakus said.
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