We already have the technology to grow human tissue, but determining its response to things like drugs and other conditions has been tougher. While it’s possible to probe the artificial skin with electrical impulses, that process isn’t ideal; in fact, it tends to screw around with tissue cells.
Enter nanowire-based artificial skin. Groundbreaking work is being done by Harvard researchers, who have pioneered something that is nothing short of cyborg tissue. The scientists have figured out how to grow skin onto a foundation of biologically compatible, fully functional nanowires. The process involves modeling organic mesh and wires, and then using that as a blueprint to fashion a 3D shape of the techno-forward material. The shape then gets impregnated with active cell cultures. The result? Lab-grown electro-flesh that lets scientists detect signals coming in from other organs and biological processes, like the heart and nerve cells.
It might seem like heady stuff, but this type of work could impact our everyday lives. Not only could pharmaceutical researchers better gauge drug interactions without putting an actual human at risk, but further out, doctors might even be able to implant it in patients. That would be a game-changer for healthcare, as it would enable the direct monitoring of patient response to treatments.
Wonder how long it will be before some ingenious techster tries to mastermind an android out of this stuff. It would be enough to make Lieutenant Data seem like an outdated toaster oven.