Weaving biological tissues

May 1st, 2017 / By: / Projects

Patents for a new smart fabric with the properties of bone tissue are pending in Australia, the United States and Europe.  Photo: Melissa Knothe Tate.
Patents for a new smart fabric with the properties of bone tissue are pending in Australia, the United States and Europe.
Photo: Melissa Knothe Tate.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSW) have developed a smart fabric with properties similar to the bone tissue periosteum, and are now ready to produce fabric prototypes for a number of different functional materials.

In developing the fabric, the biomedical engineers looked to the adaptive properties of plant and animal tissues. Periosteum, the soft tissue sleeve that envelops most bony surfaces of the body, contains a complex arrangement of collagen, elastin and other structural proteins, which delivers remarkable resilience and provides bones with added strength under high-impact loads.

Using computer modeling, the UNSW team mapped the tissue architectures of the periosteum, visualized them in 3-D, scaled up the key components and produced textile swatch prototypes that mimic periosteum’s smart stress-strain properties using a computer-controlled jacquard loom. The group used elastic material that mimics elastin and silk that mimics collagen.

The long-term goal is to weave biological tissues that are like human body parts that reflect the biology, architecture and mechanical properties of the periosteum to replace failing joints.

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