(Mirror Daily, Unites States) – According to Leon Bellan, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at the University of Vanderbilt, artificial organs may be created with cotton candy machines.
Cotton Candy machines take a rough amount of pure sugar and then uses a large amount of centrifugal force to make the sugar crystals thinner and longer. It basically turns one crystal into a long lock of sugary goodness. What is more impressive is that the strains are actually quite resistant, even though the machine stretched them tremendously.
Leon Bellan was always fascinated by the way in which these wondrous childhood machines worked. They had such an impact on the mechanical engineering assistant professor that he applied the same principle to the process of creating artificial capillary veins for the artificially created organs with which scientists are experimenting at the moment.
Capillaries are very small veins with extremely thin walls that deliver nutrients and oxygen from the heart to the cells. They also carry away the waste, meaning the carbon dioxide. They work at a cellular level so it has been difficult for researchers to find a way to recreate something so small and functional. The artificial organs that have been developed in laboratory conditions cannot be sustained without properly functioning capillaries.
But it seems that cotton candy machines were the answer that laid right in front of the researchers. Bellan modified the technology in order to create artificial capillary veins and it seems that he actually managed to revolutionize the process.
The online “Advanced Healthcare Materials” magazine published on the 4th of February an article that described the procedure that Bellan used and the results he obtained. It seems like the “cotton candy” method managed to produce capillaries that are able to maintain the cells functional and viable for more than week. This is an incredible improvement over the methods that are currently in use.
The material used by Bellan and his team to create the artificial capillary veins is called hydrogel and it is, as the name suggests, a gel based on water. Its texture is similar to hair gel, but it also mimics soluble compounds diffusion. This means that it can act exactly like a capillary vein. And the best part is that it is strong enough to be molded and thinned.
But there are various types of cells and tissue in the human body, and Bellan must find a way to adapt his invention so that it will be compatible with all of them. For the moment, the Vanderbilt assistant professor is working on a “toolbox”, a basic set of ingredients that will allow other researchers to make use of his new invention.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org