Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 7th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Keeping in Shape
27 November 2012

Keeping in Shape

Although they look like play putty, these colourful shapes are not toys for children. They are in fact made of cryogel, a cutting-edge material which can absorb large amounts of water and still keep its original shape. This sponge-like substance, which mimics the structure of living tissues, could provide a perfect framework around which new cells could grow. But, while other materials that could fulfil this function already exist, how to implant these scaffolds into patients has long been a problem. Cryogels may provide a solution. These shapes are nearly half a centimetre across, but retain their form even after being squeezed through a hypodermic needle. This may allow the revolutionary step of injecting precisely-shaped scaffolds to guide tissue reconstruction without serious surgery. Furthermore, it also solves that age-old infant's problem: how do you push a square shape through a round hole?

Written by Jan Piotrowski

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.