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Microscopic images of tissue

PI: Mark Thompson

Department: Engineering Science

Healthy cellular tissues require mechanical forces and adapt in response to them. The underlying science, mechanobiology, explains why the bones in tennis players’ serving arms are stiffer and stronger than the non-serving side and allows astronauts to stay healthy in microgravity thanks to special physical exercise regimes. 

Prof Thompson’s lab has designed solenoids (coils that produce a specifically shaped magnetic field) for bioreactor applications; these are referred to as Biosolenoids. The aim is to harness mechanobiology in vitro to deliver:

  • in vitro models for drug discovery with a mechanical environment
  • stronger, more organised engineered tissues
  • a precision force application for basic mechanotransduction research (the mechanisms by which cells convert mechanical stimulus into electrochemical activity)

The Biosolenoid technology is unique in that it combines electromagnetic field shaping with the design of the bioreactor required to maintain cultured tissues and 3D cell constructs. This can then provide precision contactless mechanical stimulation requiring no physical breach of the sterile envelope of the bioreactor.

The additional proof of concept experiments proposed in this project, will further assess the viability of this technology for a wide range of possible applications within these three key areas. A collaborative development process is proposed with a bioreactor manufacturer who will provide access to proprietary IP and additional expertise in the drug discovery space. The proposed proof-of-concept experiments will de-risk further investment and increase licensing opportunities with commercial companies that have already expressed an interest.

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