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Designed to Heal
14 April 2012

Designed to Heal

Bioengineers attempt to mimic, our body’s remarkable self-healing quality by developing artificial tissue material. Now they have added the molecular equivalent of Velcro to their recipe for hydrogel. The jelly-baby-like material can glue itself back together with enough strength to support its own weight (pictured left). And it holds firm even when stretched (right). With their high water content, these stretchy squishy self-healing gels effectively mirror the texture of natural tissue. In fact this gel could work better than stitches for sealing tears that occur in stomach perforations. Hydrogels can also be loaded with drugs for release in specific areas. And now they are being designed for environments with different acid levels. This means they could even be used to treat stomach ulcers in their highly acidic surroundings.

Written by Tristan Farrow

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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