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Feb 20, 2020

From ‘living’ cement to medicine-delivering biofilms, biologists remake the material world

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

Engineered living materials (ELM) are designed to blur boundaries. They use cells, mostly microbes, to build inert structural materials such as hardened cement or woodlike replacements for everything from construction materials to furniture. Some, like Srubar’s bricks, even incorporate living cells into the final mix. The result is materials with striking new capabilities, as the innovations on view last week at the Living Materials 2020 conference in Saarbrüken, Germany, showed: airport runways that build themselves and living bandages that grow within the body. “Cells are amazing fabrication plants,” says Neel Joshi, an ELM expert at Northeastern University. “We’re trying to use them to construct things we want.”


Engineered microbes shift from making molecules to materials.

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