Autobionics: a new paradigm in regenerative medicine and surgery

Regen Med. 2010 Mar;5(2):279-88. doi: 10.2217/rme.10.2.


The concept of bionics was developed 50 years ago and represented the development of engineering and technology based on natural biological systems. Traditional applications of bionics in healthcare include artificial bionic organs that apply engineering principles to replace or augment physiological functions by integrating electronic, mechanical or electromechanical components to inherent body tissues/organs (we term this as 'exobionics'). Recently, there has been a new wave of bio-inspired treatments that act through the reorganization of the existing biological organs in an individual to enhance physiology. Here, the technology does not replace biological tissue, but rather applies engineering principles to replace or augment physiological functions by the rearrangement and manipulation of inherent tissue/organs; we term this autobionics. Examples include: dynamic cardiomyoplasty (artificial heart pump using skeletal muscle), the Ross procedure (pulmonary autograft), dynamic graciloplasty (artificial sphincter) and metabolic gastric bypass (rearranging the gastrointestinal tract to modify gut- and pancreatic-hormone release). Autobionic therapies can be classified into dynamic, static and metabolic procedures. This results in tissue redesignation (one tissue used in place of another), tissue replacement and systems reorganization (rearranging inherent organ/tissue anatomy). In some cases autobionic procedures can enhance physiological function beyond normality and represents a new era in bio-inspired versatility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Organs*
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*