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 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.

Enabling Technological Platforms & Applications:

Mechanobiology
Microfluidics
Wearable Technologies
Translation


Mechanobiology

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.

- Cancer
- Malaria
- Cell Adhesion
- Collective Cell Migration


Microfluidics

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.

- Rare Cell Separation
- Cell based Diagnostics & Therapy
- Single Cell Analysis


Wearable Technologies

Wearable technology has recently seen a large increase in both research and commercialization due to new advances in miniature sensors and mobile computing. Features such as biofeedback, portability and unobtrusiveness have accelerated the development and growth of wearable technologies for various applications. Here, we investigate how we can miniaturize sensing technologies and make them conformal and flexible for biomedical applications. These include the use of liquid metallic alloy and graphene as sensing elements for health monitoring and disease detection, and the use of polymers for fabrication of flexible, durable and biocompatible wearable sensors. With continued understanding of science and challenges in developing wearable sensors, we hope to create the next generation of innovations and breakthroughs in wearable technology.

- Stretchable Microfiber Sensors
- Flexible Microfluidic Based Sensors


Translation

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.

Startups:
Some of our startups that we have co-founded to commercialize technologies developed in our lab include Biolidics and Flexosense.

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 (ctlim@nus.edu.sg) for further information.