For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he’s developing new ways to blunt pain.
“If you have ever hit yourself with a hammer, afterward, even a light touch can be painful for days or even weeks,” said Campbell, who researches pain on the molecular level at The University of Texas at Dallas. “While many of us may not be coordinated enough to avoid an accident, my goal is to disrupt the inception and persistence of pain memories."
Virtually all functions in our bodies require precise interactions between radically different types of molecules. The vast majority of the time, these encounters yield nothing, but a special few sustain life as we know it.
Combining the powers of the living and the inanimate, an interdisciplinary team from The University of Texas at Dallas has embedded genetically modified yeast into a synthetic gel to create a novel, shape-changing material designed to grow under specific biochemical or physical conditions.
“This is definitely a case where the product is more than the sum of its parts,” said Taylor Ware
MS’11, PhD’13, assistant professor of bioengineering
in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
and corresponding author of a paper
published in January in Science Advances,
the American Association for the Advancement of Science
’s open-access journal.
The idea to use the reproductive growth of cells to drive shape change within an inanimate container began with an old, reliable standby: baker’s yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae