Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

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 nature’s design principles to create breakthrough technologies that will revolutionize medicine, industry and the environment. Working as an alliance among Harvard’s Medical School, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s 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

Toward optical chips: A promising light source for optoelectronic chips can be tuned to different frequencies September 19th, 2014

New research points to graphene as a flexible, low-cost touchscreen solution September 19th, 2014

Wear-resistant ceramic powder maximises component lifespan in high-stress applications: Innovnano’s nanostructured 3YSZ offers improved tribological performance for manufacturing components September 18th, 2014

IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting To Celebrate 60th Anniversary as The Leading Technical Conference for Advanced Semiconductor Devices September 18th, 2014

Synthetic Biology

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

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Artificial cilia: Scientists from Kiel University develop nano-structured transportation system July 4th, 2014

Artificial enzyme mimics the natural detoxification mechanism in liver cells: Molybdenum oxide particles can assume the function of the endogenous enzyme sulfite oxidase / Basis for new therapeutic application June 30th, 2014

Academic/Education

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

Malvern technology delivers Malvern reliability in multi-disciplinary lab at Queen Mary University London September 9th, 2014

State University of New York Trustees Unanimously Approve SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) as New Name for Merged SUNY CNSE / SUNYIT September 9th, 2014

New Vice President Takes Helm at CNSE CMOST: Catherine Gilbert To Lead CNSE Children’s Museum of Science and Technology Through Expansion And Relocation August 29th, 2014

Nanomedicine

The Pocket Project will develop a low-cost and accurate point-of-care test to diagnose Tuberculosis: ICN2 holds a follow-up meeting of the Project on September 18th - 19th September 18th, 2014

New non-invasive technique could revolutionize the imaging of metastatic cancer September 17th, 2014

Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners: September 17th, 2014

Nanoscience makes your wine better September 17th, 2014

Announcements

Toward optical chips: A promising light source for optoelectronic chips can be tuned to different frequencies September 19th, 2014

New research points to graphene as a flexible, low-cost touchscreen solution September 19th, 2014

FEI Opens New Technology Center in Czech Republic: FEI expands its presence in Brno with the opening of a new, larger facility September 18th, 2014

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

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

Big Results Require Big Ambitions: Three young UCSB faculty receive CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation September 18th, 2014

Effective Nanotechnology Innovations to Receive Mustafa Prize September 16th, 2014

‘Small’ transformation yields big changes September 16th, 2014

Elusive Quantum Transformations Found Near Absolute Zero: Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University researchers measured the quantum fluctuations behind a novel magnetic material's ultra-cold ferromagnetic phase transition September 15th, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

CiQUS researchers design an artificial nose to detect DNA differentiation with single nucleotide resolution September 18th, 2014

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners: September 17th, 2014

NanoStruck has a High Recovery Rate on Mine Tailings: retrieval of up to 96% of Gold, 88% of Silver and 86% of Palladium September 12th, 2014

Research partnerships

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

The Pocket Project will develop a low-cost and accurate point-of-care test to diagnose Tuberculosis: ICN2 holds a follow-up meeting of the Project on September 18th - 19th September 18th, 2014

Recruiting bacteria to be technology innovation partners: September 17th, 2014

Carbon Sciences Developing Breakthrough Technology to Mass-Produce Graphene -- the New Miracle Material: Company Enters Into an Agreement With the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to Fund the Further Development of a New Graphene Process September 16th, 2014

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 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE