Liquid Biopsy for non-invasive Diagnostics
Circulating blood has a wealth of biomarkers of a patients health and can be easily and routinely sampled for diagnosis and monitoring. In order to extract the most information from each sample, rapid, accurate sample handling is required, ideally at the patient's bedside. Innovative microfluidics develop within IB3 allows for samples to be processed in an integrated system for rapid diagnosis.
We develop and research new polymer formulations ranging from hydrogels to rubbers and hard materials, and use these with biofabrication technologies to prepare devices for regenerative medicine, in vitro tissue models, or delivery of drugs and vaccines. Our current focal points are shape memory polymers, 3D bioprinted tumour models, and capsules for the delivery of vaccine booster shots.
Researchers within IB3 are using 3D bioprinters to produce 3D in vitro models of cancer to better understand how cancer cells interact with their surroundings as well as developing new support gels into which cells can be printed and grown.
Scale-up and Purification of Cellular Therapies
Cellular therapies offer great potential in targetted personalised medicine in the fight against a wide range of diseases. However, producing enough cells in a purified form which would be safe to give to patients is a large challenge and unmet need. To counter this, investigations into the scale-up of manufacture of red blood cells as part of the NovoSang consortium (supported by SFC) and novel optical and acoustic cell separation techniques (supported by EPSRC) are being carried out.
Enrichment and Detection of Water-Borne Pathogens
Clean water is a critical requirement for safe and healthy living, and the accurate detection of pathogens which are hazardous to human health is a key responsibility of water suppliers. Current processes to detect rare pathogens requires large volumes of water to be processed in time-consuming steps, and are susceptible to detecting dead and non-pathogenic contaminants as "positives", resulting in large quantities of wasted water and costly unnecessary decontamination. Using novel microfluidics and detection techniques, this process can be integrated into a single step and more specific detection performed.
Microfluidic Cell Manipulation
Microfluidics involves creating networks of fluidic channels below millimetre in scale, which can be small enough to work with individual cells. By engineering complex networks of channels it is possible to create lab-on-a-chip devices ideally suited to manipulating individual cells.
Electrophysiology and Bioelectricity
Within IB3 we develop new tools for electrophysiology which allow deeper understanding of the electrical behaviour of cells and oganoids by integrating novel electrodes into microfluidic devices.
Recovery of biologically valuable material from low-value by-product and waste streams
Many bioprocesses generate by-products or waste which can contain valuable biomaterials, however these may be difficult or costly to extract and purify. By utilising novel purifiction methods and innovate scale up techniques, these valuable biomaterials can be cost-effectively extracted, increasing returns and reducing waste.