Building blood vessels “spider style”

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Isn’t it kind of cool how spiders make an ultra-strong web using a fiber they create inside their bodies? It’s sturdy, yet flexible, and it’s just the perfect way to trap a juicy fly. Well, researchers from University College London must have been inspired by the creepy-crawlers, because they managed to build animal organs the same way a spider creates a web!

First, they began with a sort of “soup” filled with living cells and polymer – a strand of the same molecule chained together. Wouldn’t want to have a bowl of that when you’re sick, huh? From there, they used a 10,000 volt electric needle to sew together a fiber that can be woven into many shapes. Dr. Suwan Jayasinghe, a researcher in the study, said, “Like a spider weaves its web, we are able to draw out this continuous fiber of polymer and cells and weave a web.” By crafting the fiber into a tiny tube, the researchers made blood vessels for some mice!

They hope to use their technique to make different body segments, like to patch up a heart that just suffered an attack. I hope they manage to incorporate the technology into the latest Spider-Man costume. It would be just perfect for Halloween!

Featured image courtesy of Luc Viatour on Wikimedia.