Biobot: Development of Mammalian Cell-based Autonomous Biobots using Neurons, Muscle Cells, and 3D Stereo-lithography and Hydrogels
The long term goal of this project is to develop millimeter scale biological machines constructed with polymers and living cells that can achieve net motion towards a chemical toxin and subsequently release chemicals to neutralize the toxins. We propose to use muscle cells (cardiac or skeletal) and neurons to develop such systems. The realization of such machines and systems could eventually come about with the integration of ‘bottoms up’ emerging behavior of cells and cellular clusters, and ‘top down’ methods for bio-fabrication of cells. The development of such integrated cellular system has been a grand challenge due to many technical issues that remain unaddressed. These include; controlled 2 and 3 dimensional patterning of living cells in bio-instructive materials; development of these biomaterials that allow cell growth and proliferation in 3-D; alignment of cells to create muscle strips for desired actuation; development of in-vitro neuro-muscular junction; the neuronal circuit to control the actuation of the muscle strips; coordination of the biological actuators for net movement, sensing of the target neuro-toxins; release of the neutralization agents by cell-based factories embedded in the biomaterials; just to name a few. We plan to address these challenges over the course of the Center lifetime in collaboration with the other projects.