Microfluidics and Nanosensor Technologies
Charged with discovering technologies that can revolutionize patient care, MEI Lab is developing “organ-on-a-chip” digital twin platforms as well as three-dimensionally transformable and implantable electrodes. The scope of this multi-year project includes screening and optimizing functional materials, assembling 3D structures, and evaluating their biocompatibility.
Our initial focus for developing an “organ-on-a-chip” technology is the “heart-on-a-chip” – a cell culturing microfluidic device to create a highly controlled environment to mimic the natural habitat of heart cells. The “heart-on-a-chip” platform can be used independently to predict patient responses to therapies (or anticipate toxicities) at the tissue level and can be deployed synergistically with the cardiovascular bio digital twin to make robust and accurate predictions of both the underlying causes of disease and pathways to sustain or restore health.
With respect to implantable electrodes, nano and micro-scale conductive polymer films that are friendly to living bodies are used. We’re also exploring the use of in vivo implant electrodes as we work to control structural changes within functioning electrodes in the body. The miniaturization of medical device components will be transformative, with numerous applications across medicine. Flexible micro- or nano-scale electrodes, for example, would minimize the negative impact that rigid and planar electrode materials have on soft and curvilinear organs or tissue.
The ambitious pursuit of these research targets is energizing, and have the potential for fundamental breakthroughs in the science of materials as well as offer unprecedented technologies for diagnostics, therapeutics, and surgical functions.