Origami organs? Not all that surprising...

Arts and sciences almost always benefit when they cross paths, and one of the most interesting developments is the news of "origami organs" fashioned from liquefied animal organs.  Instapundit.com found a link to the news of the promising medical advance here.

"This new class of biomaterials has potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as well as drug discovery and therapeutics," Ramille Shah, one of the team members, told Northwestern.edu. "It's versatile and surgically friendly."

The "tissue paper" is a blend of proteins from animal organs that, when wet, can be folded, rolled, cut, flattened, balled, ripped and even crafted into tiny birds. It can also be frozen for later use, making it even more practical.

It's got important applications to a host of medical issues.  The Post notes:

A team of researchers at Northwestern University created the paper cranes to demonstrate the flexibility and malleability of their latest breakthrough: a "tissue paper" that has the potential to heal wounds, prevent scarring and help hormone production in cancer patients.

What's vivid to me in the story of how the scientist spilled the beaker full of hydrogel-based gelatin ink and saw it form into a dried sheet – and his first thought was "origami"!  What normal person's first thought would be "make origami" instead of "clean up the mess"?

It calls to mind that the world's foremost artists in origami today are high-end mathematicians and scientists.  In one of my design classes at Santa Monica College, I recall that as students, we saw a film on this phenomenon and were impressed by how the scientists' mathematical skill was easily translated via numbers and measures and angles to artistic "foliation" of the most dazzling sort.  Apparently, it was what these ace math and science genius guys did for fun.  The artwork of MIT scientists Erik and Martin Demaine was featured, and sure enough, there is still an active origami club that exists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  This may be the well-worth-watching film here

What is to be said about this?  I would venture that advances in this first manifestation of origami as medicine are probably going to move fast, given the huge bank of knowledge that exists in the scientific community on the art of origami.  They already know what this is and know more about it than anyone – which is why their artwork hobbies from it are so spectacular. 

It's also a reflection on America, where mixing art and science is not considered heretical, but actually encouraged, and innovations like this origami organ idea can come from it.  The world is a richer place because of it.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com