JUN 12, 2022 3:38 AM PDT

Self-Healing, Synthetic Skin is Grown Directly on a Robotic Finger

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

With robotics and tissue culture skills, scientists have engineered a type of synthetic skin tissue that they successfully grew on a robot finger. The organic tissue contains live cells that support a layer of organic material that grows on top, which is strong, and can be formed into different shapes. The synthetic skin is soft, and it can even heal itself. The researchers are hopeful that this work could be applied in a variety of ways, and they are planning to add different types of cells to the synthetic tissue in the future. It may be possible to create synthetic tissue that is not only alive, but can sense things about its environment, like our own skin does. The work has been reported in the journal Matter.

The graphical abstract from Kawai et al, Matter 2022

Previous research by the University of Tokyo scientists behind this work is highlighted in the video at the bottom of this article. Professor Shoji Takeuchi is a biohybrid robot expert and pioneer, and has been working at the intersection of robotics and bioengineering. This field includes things like artificial muscles, lab-grown meat, synthetic receptors, for example.

Takeuchi is interested in improving medical research models that are used to study and improve the treatment of deep wounds and burns. The work could also advance manufacturing in many ways.

“We have created a working robotic finger that articulates just as ours does, and is covered by a kind of artificial skin that can heal itself,” said Takeuchi. This skin model is complex, noted Takeuchi, and is composed of a three-dimensional matrix that grows directly on the finger itself. The researchers don't have to grow it separately and then fit for attachment onto a device. So, this approach creates a covering that is more complete and strongly anchored too, Takeuchi added.

While some three-dimensional skin models have already been created for used for research and development on cosmetics and drugs, this is the first time a synthetic, live tissue has been grown on a working robot.

The synthetic skin is composed of a collagen matrix called a hydrogel. Several different kinds of skin cells, like fibroblasts and keratinocytes, grow inside that hydrogel. A structure was engineered especially for anchoring the matrix that was created.

“Our creation is not only soft like real skin but can repair itself if cut or damaged in some way. So we imagine it could be useful in industries where in situ repairability is important as are humanlike qualities, such as dexterity and a light touch,” said Takeuchi. “In the future, we will develop more advanced versions by reproducing some of the organs found in skin, such as sensory cells, hair follicles and sweat glands. Also, we would like to try to coat larger structures.”

Sources: University of Tokyo, Matter

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUN 16, 2022
Neuroscience
Caffeine Can Cause Long-Term Changes in the Brain
JUN 16, 2022
Caffeine Can Cause Long-Term Changes in the Brain
It's estimated that as many as 80% of all people partake in the world's most common psychoactive substance, caffeine. Pe ...
JUN 28, 2022
Immunology
How the Thymus Trains the Immune System
JUN 28, 2022
How the Thymus Trains the Immune System
For centuries, the thymus was dismissed as a vestigial organ. But in the 60s, researchers suggested that it was actually ...
JUL 03, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Reversing the Spread of a Deadly Cancer
JUL 03, 2022
Reversing the Spread of a Deadly Cancer
One of the deadliest types of cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC); the survival rate at five years after d ...
JUL 12, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Nitric Oxide Reduces Hospital Stay of Pregnant Women with COVID-19
JUL 12, 2022
Nitric Oxide Reduces Hospital Stay of Pregnant Women with COVID-19
High-dose nitric oxide can reduce the length of hospital and ICU stay, as well as the need for supplemental oxygen, amon ...
JUL 21, 2022
Immunology
For the First Time, Microscopy Catches Antibodies Attacking a Receptor
JUL 21, 2022
For the First Time, Microscopy Catches Antibodies Attacking a Receptor
Using cryo-electron microscopy, researchers captured images of a molecule called an autoantibody as it attached to a rec ...
AUG 12, 2022
Immunology
Study Suggests that Terminally Exhausted T cells can be Rejuvenated
AUG 12, 2022
Study Suggests that Terminally Exhausted T cells can be Rejuvenated
Our immune cells can target cancer, but T cells can become worn out and exhausted  during lengthy battles, and they ...
Loading Comments...