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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Hybrid Biodevices case studies

Hybrid Biodevices are micro or nano-structured systems that can provide solutions for a multitude of Life Sciences research areas, ranging from artificial life and systems biology to rapid diagnosis of disease.

Current research in this area includes:

Environmental Sensing. This EPSRC and NERC funded project with Dr Matt Mowlem (National Oceanography Centre) has led to the development of a new generation of robust micro devices that can perform autonomous sensing in the oceans. These platforms are deployed on floating buoys (ARGO floats) and will continuously collect high density data of ocean chemistry (phosphate, nitrate, ammonia), salinity and temperature. The devices will also be able to analyse and count phytoplankton, and can identify the toxic plankton species that cause algal blooms (red tides).

Artificial Neurons. As part of an EU initiative that explores chemically and biochemically based information processing (a 'wet computer'), we are constructing arrays of micro droplets that are filled with a chemically excitable medium. Droplet-to-droplet excitations leads to a chemical pulse that travels through the array, mimicking neuronal impulses in the brain. Data on the speed of the chemical pulse and its modulation at array junctions will be used by computer scientists to model the information processing capabilities of much larger networks, representing the connectivity of brain cells.

Blood Cell Analysis for Point of Care Diagnostics is a collaboration with industry (Philips) and Dr Judith Holloway and Prof Donna Davies (Medicine). Our microchip technology is able to perform a full blood count from a tiny drop of blood taken from a finger prick. This new diagnostic tool will have many uses in monitoring chronic disease. One application is for cancer patients who are on chemotherapy. The chip will measure the neutrophil count every day: too low a count leads to neutropenia, a condition that requires urgent medical intervention.

Tissue Engineering on a Chip. Asthma is a serious and debilitating lung disease. Together with Prof Donna Davies (Medicine) microfluidic systems are being developed which will enable lung tissue to be cultured and grown within a microfluidic chip. The device will be able to monitor the integrity of the barrier between the lung and the blood stream. It will also enable detailed analysis of the myriad biochemical signals given off by the lung barrier cells when they are challenged with allergens and, viruses. The eventual aim is to use the platform as a lung model for fast (asthma) drug discovery.

Links

Hybrid Biodevices

 

Bioengineering Research Projects

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