A primary motivation of our research is the monitoring of physical, physiological, and biochemical parameters - in any environment and without activity restriction and behaviour modification - through using miniaturised, wireless Body Sensor Networks (BSN). Key research issues that are currently being addressed include novel sensor designs, ultra-low power microprocessor and wireless platforms, energy scavenging, biocompatibility, system integration and miniaturisation, processing-on-node technologies combined with novel ASIC design, autonomic sensor networks and light-weight communication protocols. Our research is aimed at addressing the future needs of life-long health, wellbeing and healthcare, particularly those related to demographic changes associated with an ageing population and patients with chronic illnesses. This research theme is therefore closely aligned with the IGHI’s vision of providing safe, effective and accessible technologies for both developed and developing countries.

Some of our latest works were exhibited at the 2015 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

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  • Journal article
    Ong ZY, Chen S, Nabavi E, Regoutz A, Payne DJ, Elson DS, Dexter DT, Dunlop IE, Porter AEet al., 2017,

    Multibranched Gold Nanoparticles with Intrinsic LAT-1 Targeting Capabilities for Selective Photothermal Therapy of Breast Cancer.

    , ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 9, Pages: 39259-39270, ISSN: 1944-8244

    Because of the critical role of the large neutral amino acid transporter-1 (LAT-1) in promoting tumor growth and proliferation, it is fast emerging as a highly attractive biomarker for the imaging and treatment of human malignancies, including breast cancer. While multibranched gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have emerged as a promising modality in the photothermal therapy (PTT) of cancers, some of the key challenges limiting their clinical translation lie in the need to develop reproducible and cost-effective synthetic methods as well as the selective accumulation of sufficient AuNPs at tumor sites. In this study, we report a simple and direct seed-mediated synthesis of monodispersed multibranched AuNPs using the catechol-containing LAT-1 ligands, L- and D-dopa, to confer active cancer targeting. This route obviates the need for additional conjugation with targeting moieties such as peptides or antibodies. Nanoflower-like AuNPs (AuNF) with diameters of approximately 46, 70, and 90 nm were obtained and were found to possess excellent colloidal stability and biocompatibility. A significantly higher intracellular accumulation of the L- and D-dopa functionalized AuNFs was observed in a panel of breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, and MDA-MB-453) when compared to the nontargeting control AuNFs synthesized with dopamine and 4-ethylcatechol. Importantly, no significant difference in uptake between the targeting and nontargeting AuNFs was observed in a non-tumorigenic MCF-10A breast epithelial cell line, hence demonstrating tumor selectivity. For PTT of breast cancer, Ag(+) was introduced during synthesis to obtain L-dopa functionalized nanourchin-like AuNPs (AuNUs) with strong near-infrared (NIR) absorbance. The L-dopa functionalized AuNUs mediated selective photothermal ablation of the triple negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line and sensitized the cells to the anticancer drugs cisplatin and docetaxel. This work brings forward an effective strategy

  • Journal article
    Thompson AJ, Hughes M, Anastasova S, Conklin LS, Thomas T, Leggett C, Faubion WA, Miller TJ, Delaney P, Lacombe F, Loiseau S, Meining A, Richards-Kortum R, Tearney GJ, Kelly P, Yang G-Zet al., 2017,

    The potential role of optical biopsy in the study and diagnosis of environmental enteric dysfunction

    , Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Vol: 14, Pages: 727-738, ISSN: 1759-5045

    Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is a disease of the small intestine affecting children and adults in low and middle income countries. Arising as a consequence of repeated infections, gut inflammation results in impaired intestinal absorptive and barrier function, leading to poor nutrient uptake and ultimately to stunting and other developmental limitations. Progress towards new biomarkers and interventions for EED is hampered by the practical and ethical difficulties of cross-validation with the gold standard of biopsy and histology. Optical biopsy techniques — which can provide minimally invasive or noninvasive alternatives to biopsy — could offer other routes to validation and could potentially be used as point-of-care tests among the general population. This Consensus Statement identifies and reviews the most promising candidate optical biopsy technologies for applications in EED, critically assesses them against criteria identified for successful deployment in developing world settings, and proposes further lines of enquiry. Importantly, many of the techniques discussed could also be adapted to monitor the impaired intestinal barrier in other settings such as IBD, autoimmune enteropathies, coeliac disease, graft-versus-host disease, small intestinal transplantation or critical care.

  • Journal article
    Harris-Birtill D, Singh M, Zhou Y, Shah A, Ruenraroengsak P, Gallina ME, Hanna GB, Cass AEG, Porter AE, Bamber J, Elson DSet al., 2017,

    Gold nanorod reshaping in vitro and in vivo using a continuous wave laser.

    , PLoS ONE, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1932-6203

    Gold nanorods (GNRs) are increasingly being investigated for cancer theranostics as they possess features which lend themselves in equal measures as contrast agents and catalysts for photothermal therapy. Their optical absorption spectral peak wavelength is determined by their size and shape. Photothermal therapy using GNRs is typically established using near infrared light as this allows sufficient penetration into the tumour matrix. Continuous wave (CW) lasers are the most commonly applied source of near infrared irradiation on GNRs for tumour photothermal therapy. It is perceived that large tumours may require fractionated or prolonged irradiation. However the true efficacy of repeated or protracted CW irradiation on tumour sites using the original sample of GNRs remains unclear. In this study spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy are used to demonstrate that GNRs reshape both in vitro and in vivo after CW irradiation, which reduces their absorption efficiency. These changes were sustained throughout and beyond the initial period of irradiation, resulting from a spectral blue-shift and a considerable diminution in the absorption peak of GNRs. Solid subcutaneous tumours in immunodeficient BALB/c mice were subjected to GNRs and analysed with electron microscopy pre- and post-CW laser irradiation. This phenomenon of thermally induced GNR reshaping can occur at relatively low bulk temperatures, well below the bulk melting point of gold. Photoacoustic monitoring of GNR reshaping is also evaluated as a potential clinical aid to determine GNR absorption and reshaping during photothermal therapy. Aggregation of particles was coincidentally observed following CW irradiation, which would further diminish the subsequent optical absorption capacity of irradiated GNRs. It is thus established that sequential or prolonged applications of CW laser will not confer any additional photothermal effect on tumours due to significant attenuations in the peak optical absorpt

  • Journal article
    Anastasova-Ivanova S, Kassanos P, Yang G-Z, 2017,

    Multi-Parametric Rigid and Flexible, Low-Cost, Disposable Sensing Platforms for Biomedical Applications

    , Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Vol: 102, Pages: 668-675, ISSN: 0956-5663

    The measurement of Na+, K+ and H+ is essential in medicine and plays an important role in the assessment of tissue ischemia. Microfabrication, inkjet- and screen-printing can be used for solid contact ion selective electrodes (ISE) realization; these, however, can be non-standardized, costly and time consuming processes. We present the realization of ISEs on post-processed electrodes fabricated via standardized printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing techniques. In vitro results are presented from two rigid platforms (32 ISEs) for liquid sample dip-stick measurements and two flexible platforms (6 and 32 ISEs) for post-surgical intestinal tissue monitoring, each with a common reference electrode (RE). These are combined with optimized tetrapolar bioimpedance sensors for tissue ischemia detection. Both electroless and hard gold PCB finishes are examined. Apart from the electroless rigid platform, the rest demonstrated comparable and superior performance, with the pH sensors demonstrating the greatest deviation; the flexible hard gold platform achieved a sensitivity 4.6 mV/pH and 49.2 mV/pH greater than the electroless flexible and rigid platforms, respectively. The best overall performance was achieved with the hard gold flexible platform with sensitivities as large as 73.4 mV/pH, 56.3 mV/log [Na+], and 57.4 mV/log [K+] vs. custom REs on the same substrate. Simultaneous measurements of target analytes is demonstrated with test solutions and saliva samples. The results exhibit superior performance to other PCB-based pH sensors, demonstration of Na+ and K+ PCB-based sensors with comparable performance to potentiometric sensors fabricated with other techniques, paving the way towards mass-produced, low-cost, disposable, multi-parametric chemical sensing diagnostic platforms.

  • Journal article
    Anastasova S, Crewther B, Bembnowicz P, Curto V, Ip HM, Rosa B, Yang G-Zet al., 2017,

    Corrigendum to “A wearable multisensing patch for continuous sweat monitoring” [Biosens. Bioelectron. (2016)]

    , Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Vol: 94, Pages: 730-730, ISSN: 0956-5663

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