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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  • Conference paper
    Power M, Anastasova S, Shanel S, Yang GZet al., 2017,

    Towards hybrid microrobots using pH- and photo-responsive hydrogels for cancer targeting and drug delivery

    , 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 6002-6007, ISSN: 1050-4729

    This work is towards targeted drug delivery using microrobots functionalized to navigate towards naturally occurring pH gradients caused by cancer cells, and to release a payload in response to a light stimulus. Stimuli-responsive microrobots for the localization of specific cell types and targeted drug delivery could provide a new and promising therapy to prevent and treat the spread of cancer. In this work, we present two novel biocompatible photoresists for the fabrication of hybrid microrobots using two-photon polymerization (TPP) for medical applications. One biomarker for cancerous cells is that they exhibit lower pH compared to surrounding healthy tissue. In this work, a pH-responsive resist was developed and demonstrated to automatically seek a low-pH solid in a microfluidic channel, simulating metastatic cells within a vessel. The second resist, a hydrogel-based photoresist, was created to contract in response to light. The two resists were combined together in a two-step printing process to create a microswimmer with potential for tumor localization and drug release capabilities in the human circulatory system.

  • Conference paper
    Varghese RJ, Berthet-Rayne P, Giataganas P, Vitiello V, Yang GZet al., 2017,

    A framework for sensorless and autonomous probe-tissue contact management in robotic endomicroscopic scanning

    , 2017 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Publisher: IEEE, Pages: 1738-1745, ISSN: 1050-4729

    Advances in optical imaging, and probe-based Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy (pCLE) in particular, offer real-time cellular level information for in-vivo tissue characterization. However for large area coverage, the limited field-of-view necessitates the use of a technique known as mosaicking to generate usable information from the incoming image stream. Mosaicking also needs a continuous stream of good quality images, but this is challenging as the probe needs to be maintained within an optimal working range and the contact force controlled to minimize tissue deformation. Robotic manipulation presents a potential solution to these challenges, but the lack of haptic feedback in current surgical robot systems hinders the technology's clinical adoption. This paper proposes a sensorless alternative based on processing the incoming image stream and deriving a quantitative measure representative of the image quality. This measure is then used by a controller, designed using model-free reinforcement learning techniques, to maintain optimal contact autonomously. The developed controller has shown near real-time performance in overcoming typical loss-of-contact and excess-deformation scenarios experienced during endomicroscopy scanning procedures.

  • Conference paper
    Tincknell L, Avila Rencoret F, Murphy J, Peters C, Elson Det al., 2017,

    Intraoperative hyperspectral circumferential resection margin assessment for gastrointestinal cancer surgery

    , London Surgery Symposium
  • Journal article
    Anastasova S, Crewther B, Bembnowicz P, Curto V, Ip HMD, Rosa B, Yang GZet al., 2016,

    A Wearable Multisensing Patch for Continuous Sweat Monitoring

    , Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Vol: 93, Pages: 139-145, ISSN: 0956-5663

    In sport, exercise and healthcare settings, there is a need for continuous, non-invasive monitoring of biomarkers to assess human performance, health and wellbeing. Here we report the development of a flexible microfluidic platform with fully integrated sensing for on-body testing of human sweat. The system can simultaneously and selectively measure metabolite (e.g. lactate) and electrolytes (e.g. pH, sodium) together with temperature sensing for internal calibration. The construction of the platform is designed such that continuous flow of sweat can pass through an array of flexible microneedle type of sensors (50 µm diameter) incorporated in a microfluidic channel. Potentiometric sodium ion sensors were developed using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) functional membrane deposited on an electrochemically deposited internal layer of Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) polymer. The pH sensing layer is based on a highly sensitive membrane of iridium oxide (IrOx). The amperometric-based lactate sensor consists of doped enzymes deposited on top of a semipermeable copolymer mebrane and outer polyurethane layers. Real-time data were collected from human subjects during cycle ergometry and treadmill running. A detailed comparison of sodium, lactate and cortisol from saliva is reported, demonstrating the potential of the multi-sensing platform for tracking these outcomes. In summary, a fully integrated sensor for continuous, simultaneous and selective measurement of sweat metabolites, electrolytes and temperature was achieved using a flexible microfluidic platform. This system can also transmit information wirelessly for ease of collection and storage, with the potential for real-time data analytics.

  • Conference paper
    Avila-Rencoret F, Oude Vrielink T, Elson DS, Mylonas Get al., 2016,

    EndoSDR: Concurrent Endoscopic Screening, Diagnosis, and Removal of GI cancers (prize winner)

    , Business Engineering and Surgical Technologies Innovation Symposium (BEST)

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