are now playing Frankenstein: a specially designed system has built up an artificial membrane that mimics living tissue.
Developed by Hagan Bayley
from the University of Oxford and colleagues, droplets of water wrapped in oil are ejected in layers to form a rubbery material. The tiny beads behave like cells: they can communicate with each other through membrane proteins, transmitting electric signals across the material. This video shows how osmosis can drive a
flower pattern to spontaneously fold up into a different shape, mimicking muscle movement. The hollow sphere it produces would be difficult to print directly.
The artificial tissue could be used in living organisms, as an alternative to stem cell approaches
. It has potential for targeted drug delivery, and a more sophisticated system could be incorporated in the body to assist failing tissue.