Ultrasound (high-frequency pressure waves) can be used to remotely interact with cells, biomaterials, and tissues. A major focus of our research is the development of new ultrasound-based technologies for driving the assembly of biomaterials and engineered tissues. In particular, we are using ultrasound fields to remotely pattern cell populations for tissue engineering, and provide an on-demand trigger for enzyme catalysis and hydrogelation. This includes:
Ultrasound-triggered Enzyme Catalysis and Enzymatic Hydrogelation
This study was led by Dr Valeria Nele during her PhD at Imperial College. We used ultrasound to controllably permeabilize calcium-loaded liposomes, releasing the ion cargo to activate an enzyme (transglutaminase) and catalyze the gelation of fibrinogen (link: Advanced Materials 2020). This is linked to my research activity in biomaterials & bioimaging.
Acoustic Cell Patterning for Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering
We used ultrasound standing waves to remotely pattern cells for tissue engineering. This includes the patterning of skeletal myoblasts to engineer muscle tissue with aligned bundles of myotubes and anisotropic tensile properties (link: Advanced Materials 2018), and the patterning of chondrocytes to engineer deep-zone cartilage tissue with oriented collagen fibers (link: Advanced Healthcare Materials 2022). This is linked to my research activity in tissue engineering.
Quantifying Acoustic Cell Patterning using Voronoi Tessellation
We developed a new analytical framework for the quantitative optimization of experimental parameters that affect ultrasound-based cell patterning, such as frequency, amplitude, and material viscosity. We also used this method to track the migration kinetics of acoustically-patterned cells (link: Lab on a Chip 2019).