Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Real Bionic Woman: Regrowing Body Parts…Who Needs Cyborgs?


Last year, the Bionic Woman aired to an audience eager for a sympathetic female super-hero in a high-tech world where medical advancements came from science fiction.

Nearly killed in a car accident, Jaime Sommers is saved by a cutting-edge operation that leaves her with advanced bionic prosthetics and implants that give her extraordinary new strength, speed and other artificially enhanced abilities. Sommers possessed nanomachines called anthrocytes which were capable of healing her body at a highly accelerated rate. It was a cool premise…

Reality has just collided with science fiction...again:

The ability to re-grow limbs and recreate organs in humans was demonstrated last week, as the U.S. Army disclosed details to a select group of bloggers and military observers about the technology for human cell rebuilding. Researchers re-grew a man’s fingertip and the internal organs of several test subjects using a technique called “nano-scaffolding”.

A very fine apparatus, a scaffold, made of polymer fibers hundreds of times finer than a human hair, are put in place of a missing limb or damaged organ. Much like a real scaffold, the nano-scaffold guides cells to grab onto it so they can begin to rebuild missing bones and tissue. “The tissue grows through tiny holes in the nano-scaffold, in the same way a vine snakes its way up a trellis,” writes Vito Pilieci of the Vancouver Sun. “after the body part has regenerated, the nano-scaffold breaks down, is absorbed into the person’s body and disappears entirely.” The nail, bone and tissue re-grew completely.

The military had re-grown whole bladders in people with bladder damage and were able to repair the wall of a woman’s uterus, reports Pilieci.
Back in June 2006, researchers from the University of Sheffield in England had used nano-scaffolding to repair skin damage in people with third-degree burns. In February of this year, a PhD student from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, reported research that showed how nano-scaffolding could be used to repair nerve damage. And just a few weeks ago, researchers at the City University of Hong Kong, reported claims that nano-scaffolding would soon revolutionize bone grafts and implants.

What’s next? Jean-Luc Locutus?


Reference:
Pilieci, Vito. 2008. "Military learning to gro body parts." In: The Vancouver Sun, November 8, 2008.




Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.

12 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Only if the Borg Queen wants it that way, Nina!

I see the revived Bionic Woman did not last very long. The writers strike stopped it and it wasn't picked up afterwwards.

SF Girl said...

HAR! Jean-Luc--er Locutus, I knew you'd respond! :) That's some pretty serious hardware you had there... (I could easily devote a whole blog post to it)

... it still puzzles me why they ditched Bionic Woman, though. I know the writer's strike interfered. But it didn't kill other shows. Why did this one go south? (I admit that I only saw the first few programs...on DVD, of course)

tmy said...

This appears to be one of the first steps on the road to the reality described in Robert J. Sawyer's novel, Rollback! In that novel, Robert postulated that as human bodies break down, their consciousness could be scanned and downloaded into a robotic/bionic body where they could life forever...

Really, it makes a lot of sense, when cloning humans inevitably becomes illegal due to moral concerns, and science wants to move forward on improving the lot of the human race through technological/medical breakthroughs, what direction is it going to go in?

Just stirring the pot, I can't believe noone has commented on this post! It's a big issue when you stop and think about it.

Not that I'd want to live forever, but as grist for science fiction, this is a rich one!

SF Girl said...

Yo! You are so right, tmy! And thanks for bringing up Robert J. Sawyer's cool book as an example. We are in for some exciting times! And, yes, this brings up the whole issue of life-forever and the moral ethics associated with it... such as WHO...(as in who can afford it and who can't)...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I think the tv companies were not too happy with the show and used the writers strike as an excuse not to renew.

blackburn1 said...

Bionic Woman has come and gone for this teenage fan of Lindsay Wagner. =]

Interesting article, with huge implications. It all looks wonderful, at first glance... I can't help wondering what the side effects might be. Kinda spooky to think of the potential. Locutus, indeed.

Going to try getting out to Metrotown tomorrow night... just caught the flu that's going around on my way back into town, so it may have to be Dec. Whatever the case, I hope it's a great night for you. =]

SF Girl said...

Yes.... there are always consequences we can never foresee. That's often what makes life so exciting: doing the dance of the music we had no idea we had created....and we thought we had ethical issues before! ...

Hope to see you tomorrow night, Blackburn (hope your flu goes away in time). Otherwise we'll see you at Chapters Pinetree December 13! ... If you come to Chapters Metrotown tomorrow you'll get refreshments too! Hoping to entice you and anyone else! :)

adolfo said...

The corporate woman is such a powerful and inspiring symbol when you are studying. It’s a realization you get later that a married working woman is a warrior. She not only has to work extra hard at the office to justify her leaving for home at 5:30 but also has to ensure that her house is pristine to prove that it is not getting effected cause of her job.
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adolfo
Promoter

SF Girl said...

Yes... warrior, indeed! :)

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Anonymous said...

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SF Girl said...

Yes, it would be. And I'm certain it is achievable...