skip to main content

Title: Design of a Modular Cost-Effective Robot Arm for Increased Dexterity in Laparoscopic Surgery

This paper outlines the design of a reconfigurable, partially disposable, tendon-driven robotic arm for providing assistance in laparoscopic surgery. The rationale for its development and design objectives are provided, followed by a description of its mechanical design. Kinematic simulations to assess workspace are presented, and a first-stage assessment of the functionality of a prototype using a custom test bench is also included.

Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background

    Quantification of individual species in microbial co-cultures and consortia is critical to understanding and designing communities with prescribed functions. However, it is difficult to physically separate species or measure species-specific attributes in most multi-species systems. Anaerobic gut fungi (AGF) (Neocallimastigomycetes) are native to the rumen of large herbivores, where they exist as minority members among a wealth of prokaryotes. AGF have significant biotechnological potential owing to their diverse repertoire of potent lignocellulose-degrading carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), which indirectly bolsters activity of other rumen microbes through metabolic exchange. While decades of literature suggest that polysaccharide degradation and AGF growth are accelerated in co-culture with prokaryotes, particularly methanogens, methods have not been available to measure concentrations of individual species in co-culture. New methods to disentangle the contributions of AGF and rumen prokaryotes are sorely needed to calculate AGF growth rates and metabolic fluxes to prove this hypothesis and understand its causality for predictable co-culture design.


    We present a simple, microplate-based method to measure AGF and methanogen concentrations in co-culture based on fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopies. Using samples of < 2% of the co-culture volume, we demonstrate significant increases in AGF growth rate and xylan and glucose degradation rates in co-culture with methanogensmore »relative to mono-culture. Further, we calculate significant differences in AGF metabolic fluxes in co-culture relative to mono-culture, namely increased flux through the energy-generating hydrogenosome organelle. While calculated fluxes highlight uncertainties in AGF primary metabolism that preclude definitive explanations for this shift, our method will enable steady-state fluxomic experiments to probe AGF metabolism in greater detail.


    The method we present to measure AGF and methanogen concentrations enables direct growth measurements and calculation of metabolic fluxes in co-culture. These metrics are critical to develop a quantitative understanding of interwoven rumen metabolism, as well as the impact of co-culture on polysaccharide degradation and metabolite production. The framework presented here can inspire new methods to probe systems beyond AGF and methanogens. Simple modifications to the method will likely extend its utility to co-cultures with more than two organisms or those grown on solid substrates to facilitate the design and deployment of microbial communities for bioproduction and beyond.

    « less
  2. Abstract Background

    Network propagation has been widely used for nearly 20 years to predict gene functions and phenotypes. Despite the popularity of this approach, little attention has been paid to the question of provenance tracing in this context, e.g., determining how much any experimental observation in the input contributes to the score of every prediction.


    We design a network propagation framework with 2 novel components and apply it to predict human proteins that directly or indirectly interact with SARS-CoV-2 proteins. First, we trace the provenance of each prediction to its experimentally validated sources, which in our case are human proteins experimentally determined to interact with viral proteins. Second, we design a technique that helps to reduce the manual adjustment of parameters by users. We find that for every top-ranking prediction, the highest contribution to its score arises from a direct neighbor in a human protein-protein interaction network. We further analyze these results to develop functional insights on SARS-CoV-2 that expand on known biology such as the connection between endoplasmic reticulum stress, HSPA5, and anti-clotting agents.


    We examine how our provenance-tracing method can be generalized to a broad class of network-based algorithms. We provide a useful resource for the SARS-CoV-2 community that implicatesmore »many previously undocumented proteins with putative functional relationships to viral infection. This resource includes potential drugs that can be opportunistically repositioned to target these proteins. We also discuss how our overall framework can be extended to other, newly emerging viruses.

    « less
  3. Abstract Summary

    pystablemotifs is a Python 3 library for analyzing Boolean networks. Its non-heuristic and exhaustive attractor identification algorithm was previously presented in Rozum et al. (2021). Here, we illustrate its performance improvements over similar methods and discuss how it uses outputs of the attractor identification process to drive a system to one of its attractors from any initial state. We implement six attractor control algorithms, five of which are new in this work. By design, these algorithms can return different control strategies, allowing for synergistic use. We also give a brief overview of the other tools implemented in pystablemotifs.

    Availability and implementation

    The source code is on GitHub at

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

  4. Abstract

    In individuals with lower-limb amputations, robotic prostheses can increase walking speed, and reduce energy use, the incidence of falls and the development of secondary complications. However, safe and reliable prosthetic-limb control strategies for robust ambulation in real-world settings remain out of reach, partly because control strategies have been tested with different robotic hardware in constrained laboratory settings. Here, we report the design and clinical implementation of an integrated robotic knee–ankle prosthesis that facilitates the real-world testing of its biomechanics and control strategies. The bionic leg is open source, it includes software for low-level control and for communication with control systems, and its hardware design is customizable, enabling reduction in its mass and cost, improvement in its ease of use and independent operation of the knee and ankle joints. We characterized the electromechanical and thermal performance of the bionic leg in benchtop testing, as well as its kinematics and kinetics in three individuals during walking on level ground, ramps and stairs. The open-source integrated-hardware solution and benchmark data that we provide should help with research and clinical testing of knee–ankle prostheses in real-world environments.

  5. Abstract

    Base editors (BEs) hold great potential for medical applications of gene therapy. However, high precision base editing requires BEs that can discriminate between the target base and multiple bystander bases within a narrow active window (4 – 10 nucleotides). Here, to assist in the design of these optimized editors, we propose a discrete-state stochastic approach to build an analytical model that explicitly evaluates the probabilities of editing the target base and bystanders. Combined with all-atom molecular dynamic simulations, our model reproduces the experimental data of A3A-BE3 and its variants for targeting the “TC” motif and bystander editing. Analyzing this approach, we propose several general principles that can guide the design of BEs with a reduced bystander effect. These principles are then applied to design a series of point mutations at T218 position of A3G-BEs to further reduce its bystander editing. We verify experimentally that the new mutations provide different levels of stringency on reducing the bystander editing at different genomic loci, which is consistent with our theoretical model. Thus, our study provides a computational-aided platform to assist in the scientifically-based design of BEs with reduced bystander effects.