skip to main content


Title: On-demand, remote and lossless manipulation of biofluid droplets
The recent global outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics have shown us that we are severely under-prepared to cope with infectious agents. Exposure to infectious agents present in biofluids ( e.g. , blood, saliva, urine etc. ) poses a severe risk to clinical laboratory personnel and healthcare workers, resulting in hundreds of millions of hospital-acquired and laboratory-acquired infections annually. Novel technologies that can minimize human exposure through remote and automated handling of infectious biofluids will mitigate such risk. In this work, we present biofluid manipulators, which allow on-demand, remote and lossless manipulation of virtually any liquid droplet. Our manipulators are designed by integrating thermo-responsive soft actuators with superomniphobic surfaces. Utilizing our manipulators, we demonstrate on-demand, remote and lossless manipulation of biofluid droplets. We envision that our biofluid manipulators will not only reduce manual operations and minimize exposure to infectious agents, but also pave the way for developing inexpensive, simple and portable robotic systems, which can allow point-of-care operations, particularly in developing nations.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1947454
NSF-PAR ID:
10403389
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Materials Horizons
Volume:
9
Issue:
11
ISSN:
2051-6347
Page Range / eLocation ID:
2863 to 2871
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Bordenstein, Seth (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Viruses belonging to the Nucleocytoviricota phylum are globally distributed and include members with notably large genomes and complex functional repertoires. Recent studies have shown that these viruses are particularly diverse and abundant in marine systems, but the magnitude of actively replicating Nucleocytoviricota present in ocean habitats remains unclear. In this study, we compiled a curated database of 2,431 Nucleocytoviricota genomes and used it to examine the gene expression of these viruses in a 2.5-day metatranscriptomic time-series from surface waters of the California Current. We identified 145 viral genomes with high levels of gene expression, including 90 Imitervirales and 49 Algavirales viruses. In addition to recovering high expression of core genes involved in information processing that are commonly expressed during viral infection, we also identified transcripts of diverse viral metabolic genes from pathways such as glycolysis, the TCA cycle, and the pentose phosphate pathway, suggesting that virus-mediated reprogramming of central carbon metabolism is common in oceanic surface waters. Surprisingly, we also identified viral transcripts with homology to actin, myosin, and kinesin domains, suggesting that viruses may use these gene products to manipulate host cytoskeletal dynamics during infection. We performed phylogenetic analysis on the virus-encoded myosin and kinesin proteins, which demonstrated that most belong to deep-branching viral clades, but that others appear to have been acquired from eukaryotes more recently. Our results highlight a remarkable diversity of active Nucleocytoviricota in a coastal marine system and underscore the complex functional repertoires expressed by these viruses during infection. IMPORTANCE The discovery of giant viruses has transformed our understanding of viral complexity. Although viruses have traditionally been viewed as filterable infectious agents that lack metabolism, giant viruses can reach sizes rivalling cellular lineages and possess genomes encoding central metabolic processes. Recent studies have shown that giant viruses are widespread in aquatic systems, but the activity of these viruses and the extent to which they reprogram host physiology in situ remains unclear. Here, we show that numerous giant viruses consistently express central metabolic enzymes in a coastal marine system, including components of glycolysis, the TCA cycle, and other pathways involved in nutrient homeostasis. Moreover, we found expression of several viral-encoded actin, myosin, and kinesin genes, indicating viral manipulation of the host cytoskeleton during infection. Our study reveals a high activity of giant viruses in a coastal marine system and indicates they are a diverse and underappreciated component of microbial diversity in the ocean. 
    more » « less
  2. To achieve the mission of personalized medicine, centering on delivering the right drug to the right patient at the right dose, therapeutic drug monitoring solutions are necessary. In that regard, wearable biosensing technologies, capable of tracking drug pharmacokinetics in noninvasively retrievable biofluids (e.g., sweat), play a critical role, because they can be deployed at a large scale to monitor the individuals’ drug transcourse profiles (semi)continuously and longitudinally. To this end, voltammetry-based sensing modalities are suitable, as in principle they can detect and quantify electroactive drugs on the basis of the target’s redox signature. However, the target’s redox signature in complex biofluid matrices can be confounded by the immediate biofouling effects and distorted/buried by the interfering voltammetric responses of endogenous electroactive species. Here, we devise a wearable voltammetric sensor development strategy—centering on engineering the molecule–surface interactions—to simultaneously mitigate biofouling and create an “undistorted potential window” within which the target drug’s voltammetric response is dominant and interference is eliminated. To inform its clinical utility, our strategy was adopted to track the temporal profile of circulating acetaminophen (a widely used analgesic and antipyretic) in saliva and sweat, using a surface-modified boron-doped diamond sensing interface (cross-validated with laboratory-based assays,R2∼ 0.94). Through integration of the engineered sensing interface within a custom-developed smartwatch, and augmentation with a dedicated analytical framework (for redox peak extraction), we realized a wearable solution to seamlessly render drug readouts with minute-level temporal resolution. Leveraging this solution, we demonstrated the pharmacokinetic correlation and significance of sweat readings.

     
    more » « less
  3. Underwater robots, including Remote Operating Vehicles (ROV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), are currently used to support underwater missions that are either impossible or too risky to be performed by manned systems. In recent years the academia and robotic industry have paved paths for tackling technical challenges for ROV/AUV operations. The level of intelligence of ROV/AUV has increased dramatically because of the recent advances in low-power-consumption embedded computing devices and machine intelligence (e.g., AI). Nonetheless, operating precisely underwater is still extremely challenging to minimize human intervention due to the inherent challenges and uncertainties associated with the underwater environments. Proximity operations, especially those requiring precise manipulation, are still carried out by ROV systems that are fully controlled by a human pilot. A workplace-ready and worker-friendly ROV interface that properly simplifies operator control and increases remote operation confidence is the central challenge for the wide adaptation of ROVs.

    This paper examines the recent advances of virtual telepresence technologies as a solution for lowering the barriers to the human-in-the-loop ROV teleoperation. Virtual telepresence refers to Virtual Reality (VR) related technologies that help a user to feel that they were in a hazardous situation without being present at the actual location. We present a pilot system of using a VR-based sensory simulator to convert ROV sensor data into human-perceivable sensations (e.g., haptics). Building on a cloud server for real-time rendering in VR, a less trained operator could possibly operate a remote ROV thousand miles away without losing the minimum situational awareness. The system is expected to enable an intensive human engagement on ROV teleoperation, augmenting abilities for maneuvering and navigating ROV in unknown and less explored subsea regions and works. This paper also discusses the opportunities and challenges of this technology for ad hoc training, workforce preparation, and safety in the future maritime industry. We expect that lessons learned from our work can help democratize human presence in future subsea engineering works, by accommodating human needs and limitations to lower the entrance barrier.

     
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Surgical robots for laparoscopy consist of several patient side slave manipulators that are controlled via surgeon operated master telemanipulators. Commercial surgical robots do not perform any sub-tasks - even of repetitive or noninvasive nature - autonomously or provide intelligent assistance. While this is primarily due to safety and regulatory reasons, the state of such automation intelligence also lacks the reliability and robustness for use in high-risk applications. Recent developments in continuous control using Artificial Intelligence and Reinforcement Learning have prompted growing research interest in automating mundane sub-tasks. To build on this, we present an inspired Asynchronous Framework which incorporates realtime dynamic simulation - manipulable with the masters of a surgical robot and various other input devices - and interfaces with learning agents to train and potentially allow for the execution of shared sub-tasks. The scope of this framework is generic to cater to various surgical (as well as non-surgical) training and control applications. This scope is demonstrated by examples of multi-user and multi-manual applications which allow for realistic interactions by incorporating distributed control, shared task allocation and a well-defined communication pipe-line for learning agents. These examples are discussed in conjunction with the design philosophy, specifications, system-architecture and metrics of the Asynchronous Framework and the accompanying Simulator. We show the stability of Simulator while achieving real-time dynamic simulation and interfacing with several haptic input devices and a training agent at the same time. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Active biofluid management is central to the realization of wearable bioanalytical platforms that are poised to autonomously provide frequent, real-time, and accurate measures of biomarkers in epidermally-retrievable biofluids (e.g., sweat). Accordingly, here, a programmable epidermal microfluidic valving system is devised, which is capable of biofluid sampling, routing, and compartmentalization for biomarker analysis. At its core, the system is a network of individually-addressable microheater-controlled thermo-responsive hydrogel valves, augmented with a pressure regulation mechanism to accommodate pressure built-up, when interfacing sweat glands. The active biofluid control achieved by this system is harnessed to create unprecedented wearable bioanalytical capabilities at both the sensor level (decoupling the confounding influence of flow rate variability on sensor response) and the system level (facilitating context-based sensor selection/protection). Through integration with a wireless flexible printed circuit board and seamless bilateral communication with consumer electronics (e.g., smartwatch), contextually-relevant (scheduled/on-demand) on-body biomarker data acquisition/display was achieved.

     
    more » « less