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Research

The research field of SyNaBi is based on combined skills of the team in (i) electrochemistry, and biochemistry, (ii) molecular and cellular biology, (iii) biomimetic membrnaes, bio-engineering and biophysic.

Systems for the delivery of energy

The system being developed is an Implantable BioFuel Cell (IBFC). An IBFC is a device that produces power only from the chemicals that are naturally occurring inside the body. The team is working on two approaches to creating an IBFC.

• the first approach is to use chemicals such as glucose and oxygen to provide the fuel for an enzymatic IBFC,

• the second approach is to use electrolytes such as sodium to provide the fuel for a biomimetic IBFC.

INTERNATIONAL INNOVATION IBFC :

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History of IBFC development at SyNaBi and TIMC-IMAG

Multidisciplinary research on intra-body energy scavenging that was initiated in 2000 at the laboratory TIMC-IMAG by Pr Philippe Cinquin. That research program has produced 9 patents between 2002 and 2014 that describe methods to transform chemical energy into mechanical or electrical energy.

In January 2005 a team from TIMC-IMAG performed the first implantation of the actual enzyme used for the Glucose BioFuel Cell. That implantation proved for the first time that this foreign enzyme contained within a biocompatible bag could be working inside an animal for a long period of time. In 2006, a first Implantable Glucose BioFuel Cell, which exploited enzymes to control variations of pH inside a device implanted inside the animal, was built and patented. These successes then triggered a very fruitful multidisciplinary cooperation between TIMC-IMAG and DCM, which started in 2007 and led to a patent in 2010 for the first implanted biofuel cell that produced electricity from the enzymatic breakdown of glucose and where the electrodes are obtained by compression of enzymes, mediators and conducting materials.

In 2007 a patent was taken for a biomimetic biofuel cell that exploited a gradient of salt. The background work during 2008 to 2011 provided the basis for the ongoing research to optimise the biomimetic membrane and incorporated biological proteins to augment the power output from this biomimetic biofuel cell.

Systems for the delivery of molecules, particles and drugs

These systems utilise the physical and chemical characteristics of gels to provide an environment to control the stabilization of the molecules, particles or drugs and then the subsequent “release-on-demand” of those stabilized molecules, particles or drugs. Work is progressing on cross-linking the gels with appropriate polymers. Also, we study different forms of energy to function with the gels in several specific medical applications.

Systems for implantable biosensors

These systems combine techniques of electrochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology to develop novel biosensors for implantation in the body. We focus on applying immobilized enzymes or proteins incorporated in biomimetic membranes to create these biosensors. We ensure these systems are biocompatible using experimentation on tissues and animals. The creation of the biosensors also benefits from the miniaturization we are able to achieve through the application of nanotechnology, such as by the principles described here.

Systems for environmental biosensors

These systems combine techniques of electrochemistry, biotechnology and molecular biology to develop novel biosensors for use in environmental monitoring and agriculture, for example. We focus on applying immobilized enzymes or proteins incorporated in biomimetic membranes to create these biosensors. The creation of the biosensors also benefits from the miniaturization we are able to achieve through the application of nanotechnology, such as by the principles described here.

Systems for personalised medicine and HTS

We develop these systems by relying on the concepts of “biomimetics”. This concept was first introduced by Otto Schmidt in 1969 during a presentation at the 3rd International Biophysics Congress in Boston. Such a biomimetic approach, also used in the field of nanobiotechnologies, means that the fabrication processes for the systems are based on the way that natural systems a “self-assembled”. An example is our involvement in the BROCOLI project, which is an ambitious scheme in collaboration with scientists from the CEA and CNRS to develop a nanostructured 3D polyelectrolyte scaffold that is connected to a microfluidic biochip to examine the influence of the microenvironment on cancerous cells from the prostate and to identify new biomarkers for prostate cancer. The research has recently been published in the journal Biomaterials, where we show that a positively-charged polyelectrolyte film of only several nanometres in thickness reduced the clustering and proliferation of cancerous prostate cells. Our ongoing work is developing those fundamental results into a diagnostic device for personalized medicine and high-throughput-screening (HTS).


Laboratoire TIMC-IMAG, Domaine de la Merci, 38706 La Tronche Cedex

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