Robert G. Dennis, Ph.D.
Imagine the technology to seamlessly integrate hybrid prosthetic devices with their human users. Instead of bulky and ineffective synthetic mechanisms, prosthetic devices could have tissues integrated directly into them. One of our primary objectives is to integrate living muscle actuators into prosthetic devices. As the art and science of tissue engineering evolves, so too will the hybrid prosthetic devices, incorporating a greater percentage of more sophisticated engineered tissues, until the device eventually becomes fully biologic. We are working on the technology to grow the engineered tissues from small samples of the native tissue of the user, so that when complete the engineered prosthetic device will be fully compatible with the user, employing no foreign biological elements.
Imagine engineered tissues that can fully replace injured tissue, or be used for the surgical correction of congenital deformity.
Imagine the end of animal testing. New drugs and surgical procedures will be tested directly on engineered tissues. Tissues will be grown from small samples of cells without requiring animals to be killed. New drugs and procedures can be tested on human tissues that are engineered in culture, eliminating the cost and clinical uncertainty of animal testing.
Imagine engineered meat as a food source, eliminating the need for raising and slaughtering livestock.
Imagine a world with living computers, robots, and other devices, that operate silently and efficiently, are fault tolerant and can heal themselves, can adapt to their environment, are energy efficient, produce no harmful byproducts, and are 100% biodegradable. Humans will be able to interact with their creations in ways never dreamed possible.
Imagine the day when clattering, inefficient, synthetic electro-mechanical contrivances seem quaint and frivolous. From the first time that a proto-human grasped the first stone tool and used it to shape the environment, the use of living tissues as tools has been set in our destiny.
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Bob's Home Page Muscle Mechanics Lab (U of M) Biomechatronics Group @ MIT