The paper is so flexible, it can easily be folded into an origami. When wet, it can be rolled, folded, cut, and sutured to tissue.

Scientists and engineers have invented a range of bioactive “tissue papers” made of materials derived from organs that are thin and flexible enough to even fold into an origami bird. The new biomaterials can potentially be used to support natural hormone production in young cancer patients and to aid wound healing. For wound healing, researchers think the tissue paper could provide support and the cell signaling needed to help regenerate tissue to prevent scarring and accelerate healing.

The tissue papers are made from structural proteins excreted by cells that give organs their form and structure. The proteins are combined with a polymer to make the material pliable. In the study, individual types of tissue papers were made from ovarian, uterine, kidney, liver, muscle or heart proteins obtained by processing pig and cow organs. Each tissue paper had specific cellular properties of the organ from which it was made.

The tissue papers are made from natural organs or tissues. The cells are removed, leaving the natural structural proteins — known as the extracellular matrix — that then are dried into a powder and processed into the tissue papers. Each type of paper contains residual biochemicals and protein architecture from its original organ that can stimulate cells to behave in a certain way.