Mad Genius Uses Cotton Candy Machine to Build Human Organs
Science has never tasted so sweet.
Leon Bellan, and assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, doesn’t even like cotton candy. That hasn’t stopped him from pioneering an ingenious process that uses a $40 modified cotton candy machine from Target to spin complex webs of “microfluidic channels” that can be used as a template to form artificial capillaries made of gelatin.
Here’s how it works: First, the machine’s spinning centrifuge pushes a polymer material through tiny holes to create a web of fibers that are comparable in diameter to capillaries in the human body—about one tenth the diameter of a human hair. Then, a gelatinous substance containing human cells is poured over the fibers and the result is put in an incubator to set. When it’s removed, the fibers encased in the the gel dissolve at room temperature, leaving behind the artificial living capillary system.
With further research, this method has some extremely promising potential to allow people to grow various organs from scratch by producing different types of capillary systems.