Biological materials are exquisitely complex both in terms of their structure and function. Understanding their behaviour and interactions with synthetic materials is critical to successfully engineering new systems, e.g. for drug delivery, neurostimulation or long-term implants for tissue repair and diagnostic monitoring.
There are three complementary themes underpinning our research:
1. Characterisation & Engineering of Biological Membranes
We use specially designed microfluidic systems in which live tissue can be exposed to physical stimuli and simultaneously interrogated using ultra-high speed imaging and quantitative fluorescence microscopy. This enables us to understand how the nanoscale architecture and composition of synthetic materials affect biological processes, e.g. to facilitate drug uptake or stimulation of an immune response.
2. Micro & Nano Encapsulation
We develop new methods for generating micro and nanoscale structures with a high degree of control over both their external and internal dimensions and surface texture. These methods include microfluidic, electrohydrodynamic and hybrid approaches for the simultaneous encapsulation of multiple components in layered structures e.g. to facilitate the programmed release of drugs.
3. Stimuli Responsive Systems for Targeted Therapy
By combining engineering of novel micro and nanostructure with a fundamental understanding of their biophysical interactions with tissue, we can design new systems for localised therapeutic delivery. Examples of how we are applying this research to specific clinical problems can be found below.