When the body grows new tissue, cells secrete fibronectin--a strong, stretchy type of protein that acts as a supportive scaffold. The shape and structure that fibronectin adopts directs the subsequent growth of new cells, giving the resulting tissue the correct form.
Parker's team creates the fabric by depositing fibronectin molecules on top of a water-repelling polymer surface. This causes the proteins, which are normally bundled up, to unravel. Next, the protein layer is stamped onto a dissolvable, water-attracting polymer sheet on top of a piece of glass. Adding water and warming the mixture to room temperature makes the proteins link together to form the fabric. It also dissolves the polymer so that the fabric can be peeled away and collected.