On the Road to Engineered Organs
Some day in the future man may discover a means to grow entire organs for transplant into patients. Such an achievement would be invaluable as the demand for transplantable organs always outpaces the supply. There are a great many steps before accomplishing that though, and researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have taken one of those steps.
If you picture the human brain, you may imagine this odd shape covered in wrinkles. The brain is not the only wrinkled organ and those wrinkles are from the self-organization of the cells involved. Upon closer examination, the researchers noticed that beneath the wrinkles were dead cells. This led them to ask if the dead cells caused the wrinkles or if the wrinkles caused the cell death, and after some more work, they determined the former was true and that by controlling the stiffness of the cells, the wrinkles should also be controllable.
While the ability to create wrinkles in biological material may not seem terribly important, this research improves our understanding of how organs form. With that greater knowledge, replicating organs may become possible.