Surface tension gradients induce Marangoni flow, which may be exploited for fluid transport. At the micrometer scale, these surface-driven flows can be more significant than those driven by pressure. By introducing fluid-fluid interfaces on the walls of microfluidic channels, we use surface tension gradients to drive bulk fluid flows. The gradients are specifically induced through thermal energy, exploiting the temperature dependence of a fluid-fluid interface to generate thermocapillary flow. In this report, we provide the design concept for a biocompatible, thermocapillary microchannel capable of being powered by solar irradiation. Using temperature gradients on the order of degrees Celsius per centimeter, we achieve fluid velocities on the order of millimeters per second. Following experimental observations, fluid dynamic models, and numerical simulation, we find that the fluid velocity is linearly proportional to the provided temperature gradient, enabling full control of the fluid flow within the microchannels.
ACS Nano, 11(9):8910-8923, September 2017, PMID: 28873304 (article)
High-performance, multifunctional bacteria-driven microswimmers are introduced using an optimized design and fabrication method for targeted drug delivery applications. These microswimmers are made of mostly single Escherichia coli bacterium attached to the surface of drug-loaded polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) microparticles with embedded magnetic nanoparticles. The PEM drug carriers are 1 μm in diameter and are intentionally fabricated with a more viscoelastic material than the particles previously studied in the literature. The resulting stochastic microswimmers are able to swim at mean speeds of up to 22.5 μm/s. They can be guided and targeted to specific cells, because they exhibit biased and directional motion under a chemoattractant gradient and a magnetic field, respectively. Moreover, we demonstrate the microswimmers delivering doxorubicin anticancer drug molecules, encapsulated in the polyelectrolyte multilayers, to 4T1 breast cancer cells under magnetic guidance in vitro. The results reveal the feasibility of using these active multifunctional bacteria-driven microswimmers to perform targeted drug delivery with significantly enhanced drug transfer, when compared with the passive PEM microparticles.
Biohybrid cell-driven microsystems offer unparalleled possibilities for realization of soft microrobots at the micron scale. Here, we introduce a bacteria-driven microswimmer that combines the active locomotion and sensing capabilities of bacteria with the desirable encapsulation and viscoelastic properties of a soft double-micelle microemulsion for active transport and delivery of cargo (e.g., imaging agents, genes, and drugs) to living cells. Quasi-monodisperse double emulsions were synthesized with an aqueous core that encapsulated the fluorescence imaging agents, as a proof-of-concept cargo in this study, and an outer oil shell that was functionalized with streptavidin for specific and stable attachment of biotin-conjugated Escherichia coli. Motile bacteria effectively propelled the soft microswimmers across a Transwell membrane, actively delivering imaging agents (i.e., dyes) encapsulated inside of the micelles to a monolayer of cultured MCF7 breast cancer and J744A.1 macrophage cells, which enabled real-time, live-cell imaging of cell organelles, namely mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi body. This in vitro model demonstrates the proof-of-concept feasibility of the proposed soft microswimmers and offers promise for potential biomedical applications in active and/or targeted transport and delivery of imaging agents, drugs, stem cells, siRNA, and therapeutic genes to live tissue in in vitro disease models (e.g., organ-on-a-chip devices) and stagnant or low-flow-velocity fluidic regions of the human body.
Bacteria-driven biohybrid microswimmers (bacteriabots), which integrate motile bacterial cells and functional synthetic cargo parts (e.g., microparticles encapsulating drug), are recently studied for targeted drug delivery. However, adhesion of such bacteriabots to the tissues on the site of a disease (which can increase the drug delivery efficiency) is not studied yet. Here, this paper proposes an approach to attach bacteriabots to certain types of epithelial cells (expressing mannose on the membrane), based on the affinity between lectin molecules on the tip of bacterial type I pili and mannose molecules on the epithelial cells. It is shown that the bacteria can anchor their cargo particles to mannose-functionalized surfaces and mannose-expressing cells (ATCC HTB-9) using the lectin–mannose bond. The attachment mechanism is confirmed by comparing the adhesion of bacteriabots fabricated from bacterial strains with or without type I pili to mannose-covered surfaces and cells. The proposed bioadhesive motile system can be further improved by expressing more specific adhesion moieties on the membrane of the bacteria.
Advanced drug delivery reviews, 106, pages: 27-44, Elsevier, November 2016 (article)
The use of bacterial cells as agents of medical therapy has a long history. Research that was ignited over a century ago with the accidental infection of cancer patients has matured into a platform technology that offers the promise of opening up new potential frontiers in medical treatment. Bacterial cells exhibit unique characteristics that make them well-suited as smart drug delivery agents. Our ability to genetically manipulate the molecular machinery of these cells enables the customization of their therapeutic action as well as its precise tuning and spatio-temporal control, allowing for the design of unique, complex therapeutic functions, unmatched by current drug delivery systems. Early results have been promising, but there are still many important challenges that must be addressed. We present a review of promises and challenges of employing bioengineered bacteria in drug delivery systems and introduce the biohybrid design concept as a new additional paradigm in bacteria-based drug delivery.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems