Using Nanofibers to Build Better Brain Tissue

I recently watched a video about nanofibers that was amazing.  Engineers and medical researchers at Nanofiber Solutions and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC) are using polymer nanofibers to simulate the three-dimensional structure of human tissue in plastic petri dishes.  These translucent spider-web like nanofibers are 100 times thinner than a human hair.

Normally, researchers would study live cancer cells under the microscope in petri dishes but it does not tell them how they interact in humans.  Since nanofibers are the exact size and spacing as human brain tissue, cancer cells behave more naturally on this than they would on plastic.  This gives scientists a more realistic environment to develop drugs that work.

This new approach could change how tumors are treated.  Doctors could someday take a biopsy of a tumor, put it in this tissue and try out different drugs on it all in the lab.  According to researcher Mariano Viapiano, PhD at OSUCCC, “the treatments that we are doing are specific for that biopsy for that patient.  So that will allow us to eventually to say this is the potentially best treatment for that particularly patient.”

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