In vitro culture of human tissue, it is more convenient to use robot skeleton

Organ transplant operations can always be seen in some medical-related film and television works, and some tissues can be regenerated using the human body's own repair ability. In addition to this method, in fact, some human tissues can also be cultured and transplanted in vitro, but the development of this field is still in its infancy.

▲ Picture from: Lonza Bioscience

One of the reasons for the limited development of in vitro tissue culture is adaptability. Tissue grown in a static environment is not easy to match the shape of a human body part, and even if it can rely on structures such as hinges to assist, it is usually only possible to stretch or bend the tissue in one direction.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

So researchers at Oxford University and the robotics company Devanthro came up with a different solution: If you want to grow substances that can move and bend like tendons or muscles, it's best to recreate their natural environment as accurately as possible, such as by building a Human-like environment (this research has been published in Nature Portfolio journal Communications Engineering).

▲ Picture from: FISHER STUDIOS

Using an open-source robotic skeleton designed by Devanthro engineers, the researchers chose the shoulder joint as the site for growing the tissue, and customized a growth environment for the tissue that could fit into the skeleton to bend as needed (this growth environment is called a biological environment). reactor).

Devanthro's initial design for a humanoid arm includes a simplified ball-and-socket joint and nine muscle actuators. Changes have since been made, and the adjusted MSK (musculoskeletal) shoulder is closer to the anatomy of the human shoulder than the original model.

▲ Picture from: "Communications Engineering"

In the experiments, the researchers seeded hair-like filaments with human cells and injected the chambers with a growth-promoting, nutrient-rich fluid. After a period of growth, the cells needed to be reintroduced in a replica human body. Do a 30-minute daily exercise routine for your shoulders.

After a period of time, the researchers found that the fastest cell proliferation was observed in the tissue grown on the humanoid scaffold compared to the tissue grown in a static environment. Even with varying degrees of applied force, the cells showed highly elongated morphologies.

▲ Picture from: "Communications Engineering"

From this, the researchers believe that it is feasible to use MSK (musculoskeletal) humanoid robots to support tendon tissue engineering by culturing cells in flexible bioreactor chambers that can be mechanically stimulated on humanoid robotic arms.

While the exact potential of this research remains to be seen, the current performance shows that it can overcome the limitations of current bioreactor systems.

▲ Picture from: FISHER STUDIOS

For example, it can be used to produce tissue to repair a torn rotator cuff tendon, tendonitis that causes tearing, a common shoulder problem and the most common cause of shoulder pain in adults. Often doctors use sutures to reattach the ruptured tendon to the bone, but in about 40 percent of cases the repair fails because the tissue does not heal properly. Tissue grafts that stimulate growth using humanoid robots may heal more successfully.

▲ Picture from: Medical News Today

A similar approach can also be extended to other tendons (ie targeting different parts of the body) or even other tissues (bones, ligaments, muscles, etc.). In addition to tissue engineering applications, humanoid bioreactor systems also have the potential to become advanced in vitro culture models for testing cells, drugs, and biomaterials, among others.

The researchers also believe that these humanoid robots could be built based on a patient's own physiology, allowing for personalized tissue culture.

It is worth mentioning that although the humanoid bioreactor has its own advantages, the purpose of studying it is not to replace the existing similar platforms or solutions, but to fill the gaps in the unresolved clinical translation pathway.

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