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Origami Organs

A multidisciplinary team of Wyss Institute scientists, engineers, and architectural designers at Harvard University are developing Origami Organs that could function like artificial kidneys.

Project  “Organ Origami,” involves growing living kidney cells on an engineered, porous membrane that degrades over time so that the final product is an artificial “kidney” composed purely of cells and their extracellular matrix, just like a real organ. 

“The porous membrane that we developed to support the cells is produced in large, flat sheets, so we needed a way to fold it up into a dense kidney-sized package, so we turned to a technique called ‘closed origami. Imagine folding a pita bread into a paper airplane shape, and that’s basically what we’re trying to do,” said Richard Novak, Ph.D., a Senior Staff Engineer who is leading this project and working in collaboration with Wyss Research Technician Elizabeth Calamari, Wyss Associate Faculty member and faculty member at Harvard Graduate School of Design Chuck Hoberman, and Ingber.

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