A fully printable biosensor made of soft bio-inks interfaces with a pig heart. Research about the biosensor, developed by researchers at Purdue University and Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been published in Nature Communications.
Using a novel, patent-pending biosensor that can be 3D printed using an automated printing technology, created by Purdue University researchers, surgeons may soon be able to identify crucial areas in tissues and organs during a surgical operation.
The biosensor was invented by Chi Hwan Lee and allows for simultaneous recording and visualization of tissues and organs during surgery. Lee is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the Leslie A. Geddes Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Lee also works in materials engineering as a courtesy appointment.
“Simultaneous recording and imaging could be useful during heart surgery in localizing critical regions and guiding surgical interventions such as a procedure for restoring normal heart rhythms,” Lee said.
Because additional sensors employed for recording usually interrupt the imaging process, traditional approaches for concurrently recording and photographing tissues and organs have proven problematic.
“To this end, we have developed an ultra-soft, thin and stretchable biosensor that is capable of seamlessly interfacing with the curvilinear surface of organs; for example the heart, even under large mechanical deformations, for example cardiac cycles,” Lee said. “This unique feature enables the simultaneous recording and imaging, which allows us to accurately indicate the origin of disease conditions: in this example, real-time observations on the propagation of myocardial infarction in 3D.”
The biosensors fit a range of sizes and forms of organs by employing soft bio-inks during fast prototyping of a custom-fit design. The bio-inks are softer than tissue, stretch without causing sensor deterioration, and adhere to the moist surface of organs without the use of extra adhesives. The bio-inks were formulated and synthesized by Kwan-Soo Lee’s research group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
A variety of prototype biosensors have been created in various forms, sizes, and setups. Craig Goergen, the Leslie A. Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and his team evaluated the prototypes in vivo in mice and pigs.
“Professor Goergen and his team were successfully able to identify the exact location of myocardial infarctions over time using the prototype biosensors,” Lee said. “In addition to these tests, they also evaluated the biocompatibility and anti-biofouling properties of the biosensors, as well as the effects of the biosensors on cardiac function. They have shown no significant adverse effects.”