About the MechanoBioEngineering Lab's Research
We work with an interdisciplinary team of engineers, life scientists and clinicians to address important scientific and biomedical problems relating to human diseases. In particular, we conduct mechanobiology research on diseases associated with cancer, malaria, sepsis and aging so as to provide new insights and better understand their pathophysiology. We also develop innovative mechanobiologically inspired platforms in microfluidics, tunable nanomaterials and wearable microdevices to detect, diagnose and treat such diseases. We have won numerous research awards and recognitions and have also spun out several startup companies to commercialize and translate technologies from our lab to bedside and market.
The foundation of mechanobiology lies in the application of biomechanics and biophysics in elucidating the physiology as well as pathophysiology of proteins, cells, tissues and organs. This can range from the intracellular interactions of proteins that control gene transcription or the protein complexes that drive cell migration to the physical interactions between cells and their external microenvironment which can influence processes such as stem cell differentiation, epithelium formation and wound healing. As such, any drastic changes in physical factors such as molecular and cellular mechanical properties or the microenvironment can potentially result in pathological processes (a.k.a. mechanopathology). Here, we investigate human diseases related to cancer, malaria, sepsis and aging using micro- and nanomechanical tools such as laser tweezers, atomic force microscopy, microfluidics, cell migration and cell adhesion assays. We hope these studies will not only provide better insights into our health and disease, but will also lead to the establishment of novel biophysical markers for disease detection, diagnosis, therapy and personalized medicine.
Dealing with rare single cells and being able to manipulate and retrieve them are essential first steps for disease detection and diagnosis. We are currently developing non-antibody mechanobiology based microfluidic devices to detect, diagnose and treat human diseases such as cancer, malaria and sepsis. The principle is simple and makes use of the fact that diseased cells have biomechanical properties such as cell stiffness and size that are significantly different from that of their healthy counterparts or from a population of other cell types. These devices are microfluidics based and possess several advantages: reduced sample volumes, faster processing time, high sensitivity and spatial resolution, low cost and portability. Using this approach, we hoped to develop microfluidic devices for healthcare applications in diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and personalized medicine.
Touted as the rising stars in materials science and engineering, 2D materials and nanofibers have been subjected to intense investigations due to their unique and superior properties such as high surface to volume ratio, excellent physicochemical properties as well as the ability to tailor or tune these nanomaterials for numerous applications. Here, we investigate how we can tune these nanomaterials for biological and biomedical applications. These include the use of graphene as a stem cell culture platform to enhance and accelerate proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, graphene oxide for antibacterial and antithrombotic coating application, 2D materials as sensing elements for disease detection and health monitoring, and polymer nanofibers for tissue engineering applications.
Technologies developed on the bench can only make an impact when they move from the lab to the industry and market. In creating our mechanobiologically inspired technologies, we are always mindful of how they can ultimately benefit the patients and the society. In our lab, we have and will continue to translate some of our most promising technologies into products through new startups, licensing or corporate partnership to eventually bring them from the bench to bedside.
Patents & Licensing Opportunities: There are also licensing opportunities as we have numerous pending and granted patents that have either been licensed or are available for licensing. Please contact Professor C.T. Lim (email@example.com) for further information.