In a groundbreaking study published in Science, Prof. Bozhi Tian’s lab has developed a prototype for what they call “living bioelectronics.” This innovative technology combines living cells, gel, and electronics to create devices that can seamlessly integrate with living tissue. The team’s patches, composed of sensors, bacterial cells, and a starch-gelatin mix, have shown promising results in mice by monitoring and improving psoriasis-like symptoms without causing skin irritation.

The integration of electronics with the human body has historically posed challenges due to the bulky and rigid nature of conventional devices. While advancements such as pacemakers have greatly improved patient outcomes, they often come with drawbacks like irritation and discomfort. However, Tian’s lab specializes in understanding how living cells interact with synthetic materials, paving the way for new possibilities in bioelectronics.

A key feature of the new bioelectronic devices is the integration of living cells, specifically S. epidermidis bacteria known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The device consists of a thin, flexible electronic circuit with sensors, a soft gel layer made from tapioca starch and gelatin, and the beneficial bacteria. When placed on the skin, the microbes secrete compounds that reduce inflammation, while the sensors monitor skin signals like temperature and humidity.

The researchers envision a wide range of applications for their technology beyond treating skin conditions like psoriasis. They predict that the devices could be used to accelerate wound healing, particularly in patients with diabetes. Moreover, they hope to explore additional tissue and cell types for future developments, such as devices that produce insulin or interface with neurons.

Prof. Bozhi Tian and his team have been working towards the goal of integrating living cells with electronics for over a decade. Their success in creating the ABLE platform opens up new possibilities in the field of bioelectronics. By leveraging the healing properties of microbes and the flexibility of ultrasoft gels, the researchers have demonstrated the potential for long-term, convenient treatments with minimal intervention.

The researchers express their excitement at the prospects of their work inspiring the next generation of electronic designs. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible in science, they hope to encourage innovation and creativity in the field of bioelectronics. The collaboration with research facilities and entrepreneurship centers underscores their commitment to bringing this technology to a wider audience.

The development of living bioelectronics represents a significant leap forward in the field of healthcare technology. By harnessing the principles of living cells and synthetic materials, researchers have created a platform that offers new possibilities for monitoring and treating various medical conditions. With further advancements and collaborations, the future of bioelectronics holds immense promise for improving patient outcomes and revolutionizing healthcare as we know it.

Chemistry

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