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Vanderbilt Builds Capillary System With Cotton Candy Machine

Feb. 16, 2016

Sweetness has never tasted so good for a Vanderbilt University professor. Leon Bellan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has produced a 3-D artificial capillary system that can keep cells functional for more than a week — with a cotton candy machine.

Bellan and other researchers are focusing on hydrogels — similar to hair gel — as scaffolds to support cells with 3-D artificial organs.

Hydrogels have properties that can be made to closely mimic those of the natural extracellular matrix that surrounds cells in the body. The longevity of the cells’ functionality is a major improvement over existing treatments.

Bellan and his team were funded by National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and National Science Foundation. — Michael Cipriano