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Scientists Use Cells to Fold Origami

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Here is the latest in cool biotechnology at the microscopic level:

“Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using cells to fold microscopic origami shapes. The scientists hope that in the future the use of tissue cells to fold structures will lead to next generation medical devices and allow for the engineering of biological tissue. Ben Gruber reports.”

Researchers placed small scored plastic sheets onto cultured fibroblasts (these are the connective tissue cells found ubiquitiously through the body, such as in the dermis and tendons) or onto rat heart muscle cells. When prodded with a glass probe, the cells’ cytoskeletal components (actin and myosin primarily) contracted and forced the folding of the scored plastic sheets into origami boxes.

This is a very unique approach to creating 3D structures in culture and the options for implantable devices are innumerable.

HT to Reuters

Image is a screenshot from the video

Joanne Manaster About the Author: Joanne Manaster is a university level cell and molecular biology lecturer with an insatiable passion for science outreach to all ages. Enjoy her quirky videos at, on twitter @sciencegoddess and on her Facebook page at JoanneLovesScience Follow on Twitter @sciencegoddess.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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