Morphogenesis – the process of transforming an amorphous mass of cells into functional shapes within organs – is governed by an orchestra of genes, morphogens and signaling molecules. In addition, tensile and compressive mechanical forces generated by subpopulations of cells in a spatiotemporally dynamic manner are central to control of morphogenesis. Traditional methods of recreating these morphogenetic patterns in vitro have largely relied on diffusive patterning delivering of soluble factors to pattern cellular fates. Given the challenge of controlling diffusion in dynamic living systems, spatiotemporal control morphogenetic processes are generally limited.
Building upon bioprinting capabilities, the proposed approach will enable precise control of microrobots to achieve dynamic control over the emergence of cellular lineages and patterning within 3D biological systems. Specifically, we will develop magnetic soft microrobots to generate tensile or compressive forces within specific locations of cellular systems, inducing cells to assemble and organize into 3D structures. These microrobots will be fabricated from micro/nanocomposites with anisotropic magnetic poperies and will be controlled via programmable external magnetic fields.
The proof-of-concept goal is to modulate localized extracellular forces in multicellular lung organoids and engineered vascularized tissues to control the self-assembly and -organization of desired tissue structures. Result obtained from this project will define a new area of microrobotics-guided biological systems towards probing mechanisms of tissue development and disease, as well as towards advanced biomanufacturing.
ChE, MACRO, MSE
Funding: $45K (2022)
Goal: The support from the START funding program will lead to preliminary results and proof-of-concept demonstrations that the PIs will use to initiate a research collaboration and submit a grant proposals to external funding agencies (NSF, or NIH).
Token Investors: Claudia Loebel, Brendon Baker, Abdon Pena Francesch
Project ID: 1038