In an age where 3-D printers are becoming a more and more common tool to make custom designed objects, some researchers are using the technology to manufacture replacement parts for the most customized and unique object of all--the human body. Materials scientist Susmita Bose and materials engineer Amit Bandyopadhyay are leading a team of researchers at Washington State University to create implants that more closely mimic the properties of human bone, and can be custom-designed for unusual injuries or anatomy. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services
Johns Hopkins researchers have created a synthetic protein that, when activated by ultraviolet light, can guide doctors to places within the body where cancer, arthritis and other serious medical disorders are present. Hear more in this discovery files podcast.
Credit: NSF/Karson Productions
The Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) has been established as a result of strategic planning and reorganization of NSF's Engineering Directorate (ENG). EFRI serves a critical role in helping ENG focus on important emerging areas in a timely manner. Each year, EFRI will recommend, prioritize and fund interdisciplinary initiatives at the emerging frontier of engineering research and education.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley have, for the first time ever, solved the puzzle of how the various components of an entire telomerase enzyme complex fit together and function in a three-dimensional structure. The creation of the first complete visual map of the telomerase enzyme, which is known to play a significant role in aging and most cancers, represents a breakthrough that could open up a host of new approaches to fighting disease.
A team of researchers has uncovered critical information that could help scientists understand how protein polymers interact with other self-assembling biopolymers. The research helps explain naturally occurring nano-material within cells and could one day lead to engineered bio-composites for drug delivery, artificial tissue, bio-sensing or cancer diagnosis.
Real-time, 3-D microscopic tissue imaging could be a revolution for medical fields such as cancer diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery and ophthalmology. University of Illinois researchers have developed a technique to computationally correct for aberrations in optical tomography, bringing the future of medical imaging into focus.
January 27, 2014
Researchers aim to personalize breast cancer treatments
New 3-D structures mimic human tissue, allowing researchers to culture cancer cells and test various treatments
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), bioengineer Karen Burg and her colleagues at Clemson University are developing and demonstrating a new, integrative means of studying the complex behavior of cancer cells in breast tissue. Their research may one day change the way doctors treat the disease.
"This work contributes to the basic understanding of how cells function and communicate with the environment in a three dimensional (3-D) tissue structure which is a challenging and unsolved problem," says Friedrich Srienc, a program director in the NSF’s Directorate for Engineering, which funded the research.
The researchers are building scaffolds that mimic the 3-D structure of human tissue. They use a machine called a biofabricator to deposit cancer cells at strategic locations inside the 3-D structures, just like tumors in human flesh. These structures are high-fidelity test systems. Burg and her team can culture cancer cells in them, experimenting to see which treatments are the most effective, with the ultimate goal of personalizing a treatment or a vaccine for individual patients.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #0736007, Emerging Frontiers in 3-D Breast Cancer Tissue Test Systems.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.