Researchers have taken a major step towards 3D laser-printed materials that could be used in surgical procedures to implant or repair medical devices.
A team of scientists, led by researchers at Lancaster University, have developed a method to 3D print flexible electronics using the conducting polymer polypyrrole, and they have shown that it is possible to directly print these electrical structures on or in living organisms (roundworms).
Although at a proof of concept stage, researchers believe this type of process, when fully developed, has the potential to print patient-specific implants for a variety of applications, including real-time health monitoring and medical interventions, such as treating epilepsy or pain.
Dr John Hardy, Senior Lecturer in Materials Chemistry at Lancaster University and one of the lead authors of the study, said: “This approach potentially transforms the manufacture of complex 3D electronics for technical and medical applications – including structures for communication, displays, and sensors, for example. Such approaches could revolutionize the way we implant but also repair medical devices. For example, one day technologies like this could be used to fix broken implanted electronics through a process similar to laser dental/eye surgery. Once fully mature, such technology could transform a currently major operation into a much simpler, faster, safer and cheaper procedure.”
In a two-stage study, the researchers used a Nanoscribe (a high-resolution laser 3D printer) to 3D print an electrical circuit directly within a silicone matrix (using an additive process). They demonstrated that these electronics can stimulate mouse neurones in vitro (similar to how neural electrodes are used for deep brain stimulation in vivo).
Dr Damian Cummings, Lecturer in Neuroscience at University College London, a co-author of the study who lead the brain stimulation work, said: “We took 3D printed electrodes and placed them on a slice of mouse brain tissue that we kept alive in vitro. Using this approach, we could evoke neuronal responses that were similar to those seen in vivo. Readily customised implants for a wide range of tissues offers both therapeutic potential and can be utilised in many research fields.”
In the second stage of the study, the researchers 3D printed conducting structures directly in nematode worms demonstrating that the full process (ink formulations, laser exposure and printing) is compatible with living organisms.
Dr Alexandre Benedetto, Senior Lecturer in Biomedicine at Lancaster University, and another lead author of the study, said: “We essentially tattooed conductive patches on tiny worms using smart ink and lasers instead of needles. It showed us that such technology can achieve the resolution, safety and comfort levels required for medical applications. Although improvement in infrared laser technology, smart ink formulation and delivery will be critical to translating such approaches to the clinic, it paves the way for very exciting biomedical innovations.”
The researchers believe these results are an important step highlighting the potential for additive manufacturing approaches to produce next-generation advanced material technologies – in particular, integrated electronics for technical and bespoke medical applications.
The next steps in the development in research are already underway exploring the materials in which it is possible to print, the types of structures it is possible to print and developing prototypes to showcase to potential end users who may be interested in co-development of the technology. The researchers believe the technology is around 10 to 15 years from being fully developed.
Their findings are reported in the paper ‘Creating 3D objects with integrated electronics via multiphoton fabrication in vitro and in vivo’ which is published in the academic journal Advanced Material Technologies.
The research was supported with funding from a variety of sources including: the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Please see flyer for more info on an upcoming pre-TERMIS meeting for all those interested in biomaterials, biomechanics and cell engineering.
14th International Symposium on Frontiers in Biomedical Polymers
June 11th – 15th, 2023 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.Lorin-2023-FBPS-Flyer-January-5th-update
This year our annual conference will be hosted by Ulster University in Belfast. This is set to be an amazing event, with great science, an lively conference dinner at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, and lots of fun with a traditional Irish band! Please ensure to save the date!
20-21st June 2023 Ulster University Belfast City Centre Campus, York Road
Abstracts are invited and registration is open – please see here for more details.
the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) is about to launch its 3rd & 4th calls for proposals (see details here).
We would like to draw your attention in particular to call #3 Topic 4: “Strengthening the European ecosystem for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) and other innovative therapeutic modalities for rare diseases”. This is a unique opportunity of funding for nanomedicine innovative projects, and we therefore want to strongly mobilize the whole European Nanomedicine & HealthTech community to address it.
Therefore, the ETPN will organize an online matchmaking event for its members on Friday November 25, at 4PM (CET).
- This event will help you to get ready 2 weeks before the official IHI info day brokerage dedicated to this topic on Dec. 13 (info here).
- The members of the HealthTech4EU Alliance are invited to enrich the discussions & future consortia.
1) HOW TO PARTICIPATE?
- FREE BUT MANDATORY REGISTRATION for the ETPN matchmaking event on “ATMPs for rare diseases”: BY CLICKING HERE.
- Deadline to register: Nov. 24, 2022 at 5PM (CET)
- You may send additional documents regarding your projects ideas and/or offers of collaboration for the call on ATMPs for rare diseases on this shared folder.
During the registration process on Zoom events, you will be asked to fill-in a short form that will allow us to collect in advance your expression of interest in the Call #3 topic #4 & the other various upcoming calls, and hence organize the most efficient and useful online brokerage session for you.
2) WHY THIS ETPN MATCHMAKING EVENT ?
We are convinced that the rich community of ETPN & HT4EU members can help you to prepare stronger consortia, matching the industry needs, with unique cross-tech solutions coming from the 7 European Technology Organizations united in HT4EU. Our goal is therefore to offer you to the opportunity to:
1. virtually meet with new potential partners in advance,
2. learn more about the IHI calls & their process for application
3. start expressing your interest in getting involved in common proposals answering these calls, in particular Call 3 Topic 4 on ATMPs for rare diseases.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: the official launching of the 3rd and 4th IHI calls for proposals is about to happen by December 2022. Therefore, the information provided in this form is still tentative and is prone to potential changes in the coming weeks. Please always refer to the official information provided by IHI: https://www.ihi.europa.eu/apply-funding/future-opportunities
ABOUT HealthTech4EU Alliance
HealthTech4EU Alliance is the 1st cross-technology platform for healthcare in Europe. It unites 7 European technology organisations (ETOs) – namely, Photonics21, EPoSS, DIH HERO, EUMAT, ESB, ETP Textiles, and ETPN – ranging from photonics, electronics, robotics, advanced (bio)materials, textiles, to nanomedicine, to think about, co-develop and implement cross-technology solutions needed for the personalized, preventive, and digitized precision medicine of the future.
Visit our website: www.healthtech4.eu
We thank you very much for your active participation in this initiative of the ETPN & HT4EU Alliance!
Any questions? Please contact us at any time : email@example.com
ABSTRACTS are NOW OPEN for Raman Nanotheranostics 2022!
Deadline is 31st July!
Inspired by Prof. Nick Stone’s £5.7 million Raman Nanotheranostics (RaNT) research programme funded by the EPSRC.
Check out this FREE 3-day conference hosted by the University of Exeter in the beautiful heart of the South West of the UK, 5th – 7th September 2022.
A unique in-person networking opportunity for early career researchers (ECRs).
The conference focusses on next generation healthcare technologies and will combine discussions on the latest developments in:
- Disease detection & monitoring with DEEP RAMAN & other spectroscopic techniques
- Design of TARGETED NANOPHARMACEUTICALS & imaging distribution/accumulation with MULTIPHOTON TECHNIQUES
- Tuning of BIOCOMPATIBLE NANOPARTICLE CONTSRUCTS for clinical applications
- PHOTOTHERMAL THERAPY
- Clinical translation of novel THERANOSTIC HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGIES
Currently confirmed to speak:
Prof. Ji-Xin CHEN, Prof. Paola TARONI, Prof. Warren CHAN, Prof. Bhavya SHARMA, Prof. Hatice ALTUG, Dr. Sanathana KONUGOLU VENKATA SEKAR & Dr. Holly BUTLER
To see our incredible invited speakers & submit your abstract, head to the conference website to find out more!
Follow us on Twitter @Raman_NanoT for the latest updates on #RaNT2022.
Any queries, please contact the organizers directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Excellent opportunity here for a fully funded 3.5 year PhD: Lifetime prediction of implanted electronics operating at increased relative humidity.
Lifetime prediction of implanted electronics operating at increased relative humidity – Kings College London.
Aim of the project:
Active implants, like cochlear implants, must guarantee decades of safe operation in the body, surrounded by fluid. Without protection, electronics exposed to such conditions would rapidly corrode. Most implants, irrespective of the clinical application, achieve long-term reliability by sealing the electronics inside a hermetic enclosure, to prevent the ingress of moisture.
However, no enclosure is perfectly hermetic, water vapor does penetrate at a very slow rate. With technological advances and the miniaturisation of electronics (future implants will have free internal volumes < 1 mm3), even this slow rate is becoming a challenge. Operating at elevated relative humidity introduces new failure mechanisms, we need new understandings, to develop a new method to predict microimplant lifetime [Vanhoestenberghe 2013].
We believe that it is possible to create micro-implantable-devices that operate safely for the required lifetimes despite the internal relative humidity being elevated, and the aim of this project is to design experiments to rigorously evaluate this claim. The outcome will be a new understanding of the lifetime of such microdevices, enabling us to deliver a range of new clinical applications.
This project is a study of the reliability, and failure mechanisms, of electronics in biomedical applications, specifically electronics packaged in hermetic or semi-hermetic enclosures. This is a technology development project, at this stage no specific clinical application is targeted. Our aim is to ensure the safety and long-term reliability of the next generation of active implantable micro-devices, for applications such as brain computer interfaces, wearable sensors, spinal cord stimulators. This very timely work will support the rapidly developing field of bioelectronics medicine.
Our focus is on the failure of ICs over time as a function of environmental conditions typically found in implants and wearable devices. There will be several competing failure mechanisms to study, we expect in particular to see both wirebond failure and corrosion of the integrated circuits (IC) [Gan 2014]. One challenge will be to conceive an experimental protocol that can discriminate between these failure mechanisms to evaluate their relative contribution to the failure rate. A second challenge is the need to accelerate the failure rate, since implants should operate safely for decades, yet it would be impractical to run an experiment for such a long period. Instead, the environmental stresses (temperature and relative humidity) are increased, to accelerate the failure rate and observe failures within months [Hallberg 1991].
The candidate will design an innovative experimental protocol and build the associated equipment, to control the accelerated aging environment and automatically collect data on the failure rate of electronics. We are interested in the effect of the residual ionic contaminants that remain after the final cleaning steps during assembly. The student will validate their equipment and prepare the samples in year 1 (Y1), run the experiment (Y2) and analyse the data to acquire a new understanding of the time to failure, and acceleration, based on a comparison with measurements taken on day 0 (Y3).
As with every novel equipment, the final ageing protocol is unknown at this stage, it will be designed by the candidate. We anticipate that for IC corrosion, the samples will be CMOS ICs with InterDigitated Electrodes (IDE) on the top metal layer. Monitoring the impedance between the electrodes gives information about the corrosion of the IC, a method we and others have used successfully in previous work [Vanhoestenberghe 2013, Lamont 2021]. Aged wirebond reliability will be evaluated using a different test sample design, that will be developed by the student. After a period under test, the samples will be characterised by complementary methods, such as SEM, Focused Ion Beam imaging including Transmission Electron Microscopy and Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry as appropriate. Some of these methods may be available in house, other characterisation will be performed collaboratively with research partners, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin.
This project is multi-disciplinary, and therefore we are open to candidates with a broad range of backgrounds, whether in electronics, electrochemistry, biomedical engineering or material sciences. What we look for is commitment to rigorous scientific enquiry, and a desire to conduct research that can make a difference in people’s life.