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Robotic Shoulders May Be Key to Lab-Made Tendon Grafts

When human cells derived from a shoulder tendon were grown in a flexible bioreactor chamber—one that could bend and extend with a robot's arm—they proliferated faster than those nurtured in a static environment.

Credit: Fisher Studios

U.K. and German scientists developed a proof-of-concept for using robotic skeletons to grow tendons that are strong enough for human transplants.

The researchers cultured cells from a shoulder tendon in a flexible bioreactor chamber that could bend and extend with a robot's arm.

When they attached the bioreactor to a human-modeled robotic shoulder, they could mechanically manipulate the cells to move.

Repeated flapping motion appeared to imbue some flexibility and strength to the tissue, and after two weeks the force of the robotic movements influenced the cells' growth.

According to the researchers, "Possible long-term benefits from a humanoid bioreactor-based strategy include the production of functional tissue grafts for patients, the creation of an improved in vitro culture model for preclinical work, and the opportunity to support the development of advanced robotic systems."

From ScienceAlert
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