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In-vivo Travelling Origami Stent "Robot" for Long-term Disease Monitoring and Treatment (Industry Project)

   EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Biomedical Materials

  ,  Friday, February 10, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The ABM CDT is a partnership between The Universities of Manchester and Sheffield. ALL APPLICATIONS should however, be submitted via the Manchester application system only.

Capsule endoscopes for gastrointestinal tract diagnosis have been developed to address the traditional problems of endoscope systems such as invasiveness for patients, requirement of medical staff and high cost. Such capsules, however, passively move through the GI tract and are excreted with other food within a day or so, and thus are unsuitable for long term monitoring of biological abnormalities of the body or for voluntary inspection of a tissue area of interest.

In this project, we will develop a ‘stay-in-the-body’ device in the form of a stent that will reside in the gut for a period of weeks and monitor abnormality of a body, for example, pH abnormality. The device also performs basic therapeutic procedures, such as gut dilation. Unlike robots that are generally equipped with electronics, the proposed stent itself is not equipped with batteries or a processor and is realised from a simple combination of sheet materials, thus called ‘origami stent’, making it safe and, in some cases, digestible after use.

This work is a significant milestone to the development of non-invasive surgery of the gut. It opens the possibilities of (1) Minimally traumatic gut inspection and (2) Unprecedented anomaly sensing for extended periods of time.

Project Description

Despite recent advances in oral intake type GI capsules and biomechatronics technology, advanced surgical devices that can stop at any time or reside in the GI tract for extended periods of time (days to weeks), monitor biological abnormalities and perform therapeutic procedures have yet to be realised. This is because the GI tract’s size limitation restricts the electronic components that can be loaded, while its physiology makes it difficult for the capsules to remain in place as the organ motility excretes them out of the body as waste within a day.

The most advanced capsules used in the clinic to date are mostly capable of examining the GI tract for disease diagnosis through their passive flow through the GI tract. These therapies however involve a number of procedural steps, medical staff with a variety of skills, surgical invasiveness for patients and correspondingly high cost. In this project we will develop transformative therapeutic devices for GI diagnosis and treatment to reduce these drawbacks.

Main questions to be answered

The underlying questions that we will seek to answer through this project are the following:

  1. What are the materials and metamaterials that can be encapsulated for swallowing and can later unfold to a structure whose mechanical properties allow self-deployment for tissue dilation.
  2. What are appropriate materials to work as biosensors for the GI and be encapsulated in the origami stent?
  3. How to enable selective attachment to tissue for the stent to reside at a site or navigate through the GI?

We will integrate our team’s expertise in origami robot technology (Dr. Miyashita), implantable robots (Dr. Damian), and implantable biosensor (Prof. Shoji) and realise an origami travelling stent with the following functions: Mobile and anchoring functions of the stent inside the GI tract and long-term wireless disease diagnosis functions in response to the abnormal biophysical conditions of the body. Furthermore, in collaboration with Sheffield Children's Hospital, with which we have tight collaborations, experiments using animal’s carcass will be carried out to demonstrate the practicality of this technology. The project is developed upon key elements for a comprehensive approach to the next generation of surgical devices in order to advance this technology to translational phases. This technology will have an impact in gut disease treatment from general diagnosis to treating ulcers, local wounds and strictures. The technical results will be widely used in smart materials and human-robot interaction.

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