Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Build it Like Mother Nature

In a step toward creating adhesives, drug delivery systems and other useful tools, Wyss Institute researchers led by Joanna Aizenberg have synthesized nanobristles that self-assemble into helical shapes,which are ubiquitous in nature.
In a step toward creating adhesives, drug delivery systems and other useful tools, Wyss Institute researchers led by Joanna Aizenberg have synthesized nanobristles that self-assemble into helical shapes,which are ubiquitous in nature.

Abstract:
Frank Lloyd Wright knew nature could teach architects a thing or two. Inspired by the contours of the landscape, Wright designed buildings with organic forms. With a similar philosophy, researchers are charting a new course in medicine through the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, launched in 2009 with the largest philanthropic gift to Harvard in the University's history -- $125 million -- from engineer-entrepreneur Hansjorg Wyss.

Build it Like Mother Nature

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 22nd, 2010

The Institute brings together researchers and clinicians from Harvard's Medical School and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), its affiliated hospitals and nearby institutions, and provides them with funding, space, and expert technical assistance to build on revolutionary advances in engineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and computer science. Although their ideas carry a high risk of failure, they also have the potential to yield big dividends for human health.

"We're adopting the same simple, ingenious design principles that nature uses to create new medical devices and biomaterials," says Donald Ingber, the Institute's founding director and an HMS professor of pathology at Children's Hospital Boston.

Wyss teams discard stale patterns of thought by embracing strategies living systems use to adapt and compete for survival. Some of these tactics run counter to what scientists and engineers learn during their formal training. Take nature's approach to noise.

"Nature harnesses noise instead of trying to minimize it," says Ingber, using natural selection to illustrate his point. Genetic noise -- in the form of random DNA mutations -- produces populations of cells with slightly differing DNA blueprints and traits.

Electrical engineers despise noise and strive to eliminate it from equipment, from radio transmitters to lasers. Wyss researchers recognize that the human body bears little resemblance to a cool, quiet room for computer servers. This complex multi-cellular organism instead resembles an experimental polyrhythmic symphony in which the musicians work from their own scores, yet are flexible enough to improvise.

Relying on insights from nature may enable Wyss researchers to innovate where others have failed. Take tissue engineering: Instead of working in a petri dish, a team led by Ingber etched three-dimensional channels into a flexible, translucent cube and filled them with cells to recreate key structures found in the lung. The resulting "lung on a chip" expands and contracts rhythmically. It breathes. "We could never have achieved this necessary level of complexity in a dish," Ingber says. He hopes this and other tiny organ surrogates will provide an alternative to animal models. "We're not interested in making incremental improvements to existing materials and devices," he declares. "We're trying to shift paradigms."

Another Wyss team is developing an assistive device for children with cerebral palsy and other forms of brain injury that isn't stiff and awkward like a leg brace but instead is as soft and lightweight as clothing.

With seed funding from the Wyss, Eugene Goldfield, an HMS assistant professor of psychology at Children's Hospital Boston, is designing a programmable "second skin" to re-educate an injured nervous system. The skin will be made of many tiny "smart agents" that sense movement and then collaborate with patients' leg muscles to help them move.

"Without prompting from Don Ingber, I probably would have fumbled along on my own for a long time," says Goldfield. "Don realized it was important for me to connect with robotics experts, so he showed up one day and offered me a ride over to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences." There, Goldfield met SEAS Associate Professor of Computer Science Radhika Nagpal, who is interested in robotic systems that adapt like living systems. Her group has created a self-balancing table composed of 12 identical robots that cooperate without guidance from a leader, responding to disturbances to keep the table level.

For help in mimicking nature's principle of self-organization, Nagpal and Goldfield turned to Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory founder and SEAS professor Robert Wood. Wood brings to the project new force-generating lightweight materials that he uses to make insect robots fly.

"We need each other desperately," says Nagpal of the trio's shared vision, which has drawn them out of their comfort zones. That is, after all, what the Wyss Institute is about: moving bold ideas through a discovery phase to the point where they capture interest -- and funding -- from government or industry.

####

About Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (http://wyss.harvard.edu) uses natureís design principles to create breakthrough technologies that will revolutionize medicine, industry and the environment. Working as an alliance among Harvardís Medical School, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Childrenís Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk, fundamental research that leads to transformative change. By applying biological principles, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, manufacturing, robotics, energy and sustainable architecture. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances and new startups.

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Why Is Google Making Synthetic Arms? February 1st, 2015

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Leader Describes Iran's Independence as Root Cause of Bullying Powers' Enmity February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Synthetic Biology

New tool could help reshape the limits of synthetic biology: The 'telomerator' reshapes synthetic yeast chromosome into more flexible, realistic form, redefining what geneticists can build November 3rd, 2014

Tiny carbon nanotube pores make big impact October 29th, 2014

Smallest world record has 'endless possibilities' for bio-nanotechnology October 8th, 2014

Artificial Cells Act Like the Real Thing: Cell-like compartments produce proteins and communicate with one another, similar to natural biological systems August 18th, 2014

Academic/Education

Rice's Naomi Halas to direct Smalley Institute: Optics pioneer will lead Rice's multidisciplinary science institute January 15th, 2015

SUNY Board Appoints Dr. Alain Kaloyeros as Founding President of SUNY Polytechnic Institute January 13th, 2015

CNSE's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center Successfully Recertifies as ISO 9001:2008 January 12th, 2015

SUNY Poly Now Accepting Applications to the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Fall 2015: Full Scholarships Available to Incoming CNSE Students January 7th, 2015

Nanomedicine

Why Is Google Making Synthetic Arms? February 1st, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Made-in-Singapore rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva: IBN's MedTech innovation simplifies diagnosis of infectious diseases January 29th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Planning to Produce Edible Insulin January 28th, 2015

Announcements

Why Is Google Making Synthetic Arms? February 1st, 2015

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Leader Describes Iran's Independence as Root Cause of Bullying Powers' Enmity February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

OCSiAl supports NanoART Imagery Contest January 23rd, 2015

EnvisioNano: An image contest hosted by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) January 22nd, 2015

Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals: Super-hydrophobic properties could lead to applications in solar panels, sanitation and as rust-free metals January 20th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Spider electro-combs its sticky nano-filaments January 28th, 2015

Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It's the mileage, not the age January 26th, 2015

Engineering self-assembling amyloid fibers January 26th, 2015

Research partnerships

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Made-in-Singapore rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva: IBN's MedTech innovation simplifies diagnosis of infectious diseases January 29th, 2015

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply January 27th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE