In Ireland, researchers from AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science institute, developed a new biomaterial made of collagen and graphene which is capable of both regenerating tissues which respond to electrical stimuli (such as the nerves, spinal cord, heart, brain and muscles) as well as eliminating infection – an ever-growing problem in hospitals. This could enable enhanced recovery for heart attack and burn patients. This new material could help to improve quality of life for heart attack survivors, as scar tissue build-up can decrease heart function. An electroconductive biomaterial could bypass damaged regions of the heart and restore functional activity.
The new material is composed of collagen, the most abundant protein of the human body which has known regenerative potential and can support the body’s cells, and graphene, the world’s thinnest material which is known to have unique mechanical and electrical properties, resulting in an electroconductive ‘biohybrid’ combining the beneficial properties of both materials –resulting in a material which is mechanically stronger, with increased electrical conductivity.