By September 29, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Harvard Creates ‘Half Man, Half Machine’ Cyborg Flesh


It sounds straight out of a science fiction movie. Harvard has recently announced that they have created a synthetic “cyborg” flesh that is half man and half machine. The results are published in Nature Materials, and gained initial attention from their mention in the Harvard Gazette. The report details how researchers embedded electrical nanowires into the laboratory-grown flesh. 

The cells act just like normal cells. They behave normally, but the electronic part of them acts as a network of sensors that allows a computer to interface with the cells. Harvard scientists have actually already embedded such cells in hearts, using nanowires to measure the heart rate in animals.

The lead of the research team, Dr. Charles Lieber, told the Harvard Gazette that, “With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it.

“Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”

The Harvard Gazette notes they were initially worried that the skin would reject the cyborg cells, but that didn’t end up happening. 

Below we see examples of Cardiac cells, highlighting a nanoelectroic electrode.



Lieber said their invention could be a real benefit the pharmaceutical industry, which could test new drugs on cyborg skin. But there are almost as many concerns about this new technology as there are potential applications and benefits. 

What are your thoughts? Is this a good idea, or is technology moving in a dangerous direction?

(Article by Simeon Ari; images via Extreme Tech)

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