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Friday, February 4, 2011

National Geographic Channel's Explorer Features Draper Research to Grow Organs

Draper Laboratory’s research that enables scientists to grow human body parts will be included in “Explorer: How to Build a Beating Heart,” which premieres on MondayFebruary 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel.“How to Build a Beating Heart” delves into the science of tissue engineering and reveals how scientists are beginning to harness the body’s natural powers to grow skin, muscle, body parts and vital organs, even hearts.

The documentary features Dr. Jeff Borenstein, a physicist and biomedical engineer who leads the program in Tissue and Organ Constructs at Draper, and several members of his research team. He discusses how the Laboratory is applying capabilities previously developed for aerospace guidance systems to help replace the function of diseased or failing organs, and to create organ constructs for laboratory experimentation to aid in determining a patient’s course of treatment.

Borenstein and his research team are developing microfabricated polymer scaffolds with channels that mimic the capillary network in organs, enabling blood flow and delivery of oxygen and other nutrients for the developing organ. Like human capillaries, these channels are approximately one-seventh the width of a human hair.

“We are very excited about the prospects for our microfabrication-based organ assist and replacement technologies in providing solutions for these urgent medical needs,” Borenstein said.

Draper is applying technologies and tools from the physical sciences and engineering to critical healthcare needs, developing solutions to address traumatic brain injury, control internal hemorrhaging, detect infectious diseases, re-grow hearing, and make surgery safer and more effective.

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