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Software Advances Tissue Engineering
Rensselaer researchers have developed adaptive computer simulation software that promises to advance tissue engineering. This paves the way for new implants and safer transplants engineered from human tissue. Better products mean less risk of patient rejection and infection.
The software is currently being used to design a bioartificial artery formed from a combination of Teflon, collagen, and muscle cells. It was developed by Dean of Science Joseph Flaherty, graduate student Toshiro Ohsumi, and other colleagues at Rensselaers Scientific Computation Research Center.
Flahertys team expanded a mathematical model that is widely used to solve scientific and engineering problems, such as bridge or aircraft design. The expanded method adapts to the complex phases and different parts of a biological simulation.
For instance, all parts of an artery are not created equal. To withstand the stress at the point of suture, the ends of the blood vessel must be thicker than its middle. Before fabricating a bioartificial artery, the simulation takes into account how the materials and biological elements change as the artery is formed. This allows researchers to determine how well the final product will withstand the constant pulsating flow of blood.
Research that results in such sophisticated software and other information technology highlights the growing trend toward computer simulation in concert with experimentation, Flaherty says.
As we realize the enormous potential of tissue engineering, there is an increasing need for computer-aided design to optimize the fabrication of bioartificial tissues, Flaherty says. Simulation systems, such as ours, provide researchers with an optimal starting point, thereby limiting the number of costly trials and increasing the accuracy of experimentation.
The software can be applied to numerous chemical and biological processes to better understand wound-healing, for instance. Project collaborators also include researchers at the University of Minnesota.
|Rensselaer Magazine: June 2003|
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