Biomaterials & Biofabrication
The organs-on-a-chip platforms seek to recapitulate human organ functions at microscale by integrating microfluidic networks with three-dimensional tissue models, which are anticipated to provide robust and accurate predictions of drug/toxin effects in the human body. We are developing the state-of-art organ-on-a-chip platforms with integrated bioreactors and microfluidic modules. The efforts represent a critical step towards animal-free toxicology tests to eventually achieve personalized precision medicine.
We have previously pioneered the development a simple and versatile method to fabricate a novel category of 3D porous scaffolds, i.e. the inverse opal scaffolds. These scaffolds possess highly uniform and tightly controlled spherical pores, which can be used as a generic platform for generating functional tissue substitutes. A series publications reflect our endeavors in the development of a series of scaffolds made of biocompatible/biodegradable materials that could modulate neovessel formation, promote osteogenesis by inclusion of mineral nanoparticles, and regenerate skeletal muscles, through precise control over the pore properties of the scaffolds. Our recent focus in this area has shifted towards 3D bioprinting and hydrogel microengineering for spatiotemporally controlled fabrication of biomimetic tissues and tissue models. We have developed a series of state-of-the-art bioprinting technologies spanning from sacrificial bioprinting and microfluidic bioprinting for fabrication of vascular structures all the way to digital multi-material bioprinting for hierarchical tissue fabrication and development of various bioink formulations. We have further innovated minimally invasive techniques to facilitate cell delivery.
The photoacoustic tomography (PAT) has been extensively applied to biomedicine for non-invasive imaging of blood vessels and objects with absorption contrasts at great penetration depth. We pioneered the application of PAT to interrogate biomaterial-tissue interactions. We have also invented the expansion mini-microscopy, where high-resolution imaging of biological specimens can be achieved at extremely low cost. In addition, we have pioneered the integrating modular biochemical, biophysical, and optical sensing units with organ-on-a-chips platformsto enable in situ, continual, and automated analyses of physicochemical parameters in a noninvasive manner.
Biosensing systems for characterizing organoid behaviors and responses in organ-on-a-chip platforms.
We have designed and developed micro-/nano- drug formulations using both polymers and noble metals for use in controlled drug release, drug delivery, and cancer theranostics. For example, novel microparticles made from temperature-sensitive phase-change material were fabricated for multi-stage controlled drug release, and smart gold nanocages were coated with thermosensitive biopolymers as a smart vehicle for laser-assisted drug delivery.