MANUFACTURING BIOELECTRONIC DEVICES VIA MULTIPHOTON FABRICATION

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Electromagnetic fields affect a variety of tissues (e.g. bone, muscle, nerve and skin) and play important roles in biological processes (e.g. nerve sprouting, prenatal development and wound healing). This has inspired the development of electrically conducting devices for medical applications (e.g. cardiac pacemakers, neural electrodes/neuromodulation) that are manufactured from inorganic metals/alloys and are suited for long term application. Dr Hardy is an expert in the development of bioelectronic materials (particularly conducting polymers) for medical applications (drug delivery, neuromodulation and tissue regeneration) and seeks to use multiphoton fabrication (a high tech 3D printing technique) to print an emerging technology for healthcare applications (drug delivery devices that respond to electrical stimuli) feeding into both the materials- and healthcare-related industries which have multibillion pound turnovers and employ millions of people. Importantly, the project has the support of Manchester-based Kratos Analytical Ltd., is aligned with the oncoming Industry 4.0 revolution and supports the Northern Powerhouse.

Planned Impact

Fundamental and applied research underpins the economy (financial, healthcare, intellectual, knowledge, legal and people) and secures society.
Bioelectronics is an emerging area of technology that promises broad impact in healthcare (as biosensors, drug delivery devices, scaffolds for tissue engineering and electrodes for recording or stimulating neural activity), the potential market for which is worth many billions of pounds (£).The 12 month project described here aims to demonstrate the capability of multiphoton fabrication to manufacture 3D biodegradable bioelectronic materials that have potential to be used as drug delivery devices and tissue scaffolds for regenerative medicine, which are new product developments in a key emerging industry, demonstrating unique world leading research activity (by employing a niche capability). In the medium term (2-5 years) it is likely that the scope of the innovative processes we develop will be investigated in further depth for their potential to manufacture a variety of bioelectronic devices by UK-based industry (e.g. GSK, AstraZeneca), involving investment from industry in higher education, training the workforce, and highlighting the UK's capabilities in various strategically relevant scientific and technological domains. The proposal is thematically aligned with the EPSRCs strategic interest in "Manufacturing the Future" (EPSRC theme funding ca. £474M), employing multiphoton fabrication as a manufacturing technology (EPSRC funding ca. £167M) for the manufacture of biomaterials (EPSRC funding ca. £5M) that will be employed as "Healthcare Technologies" (EPSRC theme funding ca. £325M). This bridges two of the eight great technologies that the government has identified that will propel the economy (i.e. advanced materials and regenerative medicine), and feeds into both the materials-related and healthcare-related industries which have turnovers of £100s of billions per annum and employ millions of people. Moreover, thect is aligned with the Industry 4.0 revolution and supports the Northern Powerhouse.
The direct involvement of a UK-based manufacturer of High Tech instrumentation for surface analysis (Kratos Analytical Ltd in Manchester) who offer to analyse samples generated throughout the project via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) will be mutually beneficial for both parties. For JGH the partnership offers a source of high quality data offering insight into structure-function relationships for the samples, whereas for Kratos the samples may help to optimise their hardware/software applications for a new and growing market.
JGH interacts with the Business Partnerships and Enterprise (BPE) team at the university, both within the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST, particularly Dr Mike Entwistle and Dr Martin Gilmore) and the Faculty of Health and Medicine (FHM, particularly Dr Mandy Dixon and Dr Steve Milan), who assist with building and maintaining relationships with businesses and potential end users (e.g. the NHS). The BPE teams are instrumental with all of JGH's interactions with industry, and fruitful examples include: Armatrex, GVS and NGPOD. JGH also interacts with the Intellectual Property (IP) team at Lancaster who facilitated submission of a patent application in JGH's first year at Lancaster, and together the BPE/IP teams will enable further interactions which should shorten the route to translation and/or eventual clinical adoption of technologies developed over the course of the project, yielding health impacts.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We developed a methodology to produce bioelectronic devices via multiphoton fabrication that in principle enables the manufacture of patient specific electronic devices for various biomedical applications (e.g. biosensors, drug delivery, neuromodulation). Our prototype devices allow sensing of biomolecular analytes (demonstrated in vitro), drug delivery (demonstrated in vitro) neuromodulation of the nervous system (demonstrated ex vivo). We have recently reported our findings to the Business Partnerships and Enterprise Team at Lancaster University to assess for commercial potential, prior to submission for publication in open access format.
Exploitation Route These promising preliminary findings may be taken forward via academic and non-academic routes.
1) Academic route: explorative, inventive & innovative research on multiphoton fabrication to generate new intellectual property.
2) Academic/Industrial route: further UKRI-funded research projects to optimise the manufacture process for specific target applications & demonstrate efficacy in collaboration with industrial partners (e.g. Galvani Bioelectronics, Johnson Matthey, etc.).
3) Industrial route: technology licensing by industry (e.g. Galvani Bioelectronics, Johnson Matthey, etc.) and manufacture of bioelectronics for specific target applications.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description This project has facilitated proactive engagement and outreach activities to the wider public (e.g. via university open days, public lecture series, etc.), and showcasing of our work at conferences and industry meetings in the UK and overseas to academic and industrial audiences. The key findings of this research have been used to strengthen collaborations with both potential end users (Galvani Bioelectronics in Stevenage and Johnson Matthey in Reading, UK), manufacturers of high-tech analytical equipment (Kratos Analytical Ltd in Manchester, UK) and the pharmaceutical industry (Concept Life Sciences, with whom we have a PhD studentship in place), all of which should lead to collaborative publications in peer-reviewed journals in open access format. Once we have ascertained the scope of the intellectual property to protect with patent application(s) we will establish deeper collaborative interactions with these companies (e.g. supported via UKRI-funds and/or knowledge transfer projects) to achieve as broad an impact profile as possible.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Chemicals,Education,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Royal Society International Exchange Committee
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Participation in the Royal Society International Exchange Committee facilitates training opportunities for postgraduate researchers to undertake international training opportunities and deliver improved educational and skill level of workforce.
URL https://royalsociety.org/about-us/committees/international-exchanges-committee/
 
Description Royal Society of Chemistry Lancaster & District Local Section Programme Secretary
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Improved educational and skill level of workforce via continuing professional development opportunities for the public in the North West of the UK.
URL http://www.rsc.org/Membership/Networking/LocalSections/LancasterAndDistrict/index.asp?e=1
 
Description Society of Chemical Industry Materials Science Early Career Committee
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Improved educational and skill level of workforce through offering continuing professional development activities.
 
Description Organic Electronic Biomaterials for Bioelectronic Regenerative Medicine
Amount £75,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2065445 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description Collaboration with Ain Shams University. 
Organisation Ain Shams University
Country Egypt 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration with Ain Shams University in Egypt was initiated by hosting a faculty member for a period of 1 month for training and access to equipment and facilities at Lancaster University.
Collaborator Contribution The visiting faculty member contributed their expertise to a closely aligned project for a period of 1 month at Lancaster University, and thereafter further time "in kind" while based in Egypt. This has been highly productive and will yield a number of collaborative research publications.
Impact Outputs: DOI: 10.3390/ma11071123. DOI: 10.1016/j.jddst.2018.07.002. This collaboration is multi-disciplinary involving: Chemistry, Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Hazara University in Pakistan 
Organisation Hazara University
PI Contribution Collaboration with Hazara University in Pakistan was initiated by hosting a PhD student for a period of 6 months for training and access to equipment and facilities at Lancaster University.
Collaborator Contribution The visiting PhD student contributed their expertise to a related project for a period of 6 months.
Impact Output DOI: 10.3390/ma11071123 The collaboration was multidisciplinary in nature involving: Chemistry, Materials Science, Natural Sciences and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Participation in Royal Society of Chemistry Top of the Bench Competition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Participation in Royal Society of Chemistry Top of the Bench Competition at my research institution/facility have resulted in students deciding to study at Lancaster University (or other universities).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL http://www.rsc.org/events/detail/36098/top-of-the-bench-competition-2018-19
 
Description Participation in open days and visits at my research institution/facility 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participation in open days and visits at my research institution/facility (e.g. guided tours for industry/business, applicant visitor days, university open days, etc.). These have resulted in the development of collaborative research projects (indirect/direct investment), students deciding to study at Lancaster University, etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description Presentations to Industry/Business 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentations to Industry/Business which have resulted in consultancy/preliminary collaborative research activities supported through EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account funds or industry/business funds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
 
Description Royal Society of Chemistry Lancaster & District Local Section Committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Events I have organised with the support of the Royal Society of Chemistry Lancaster & District Local Section Committee I'm Programme Secretary for have seen engagement from hundreds of people in the North West.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL http://www.rsc.org/Membership/Networking/LocalSections/LancasterAndDistrict/index.asp?e=1