This paper reports the use of low-frequency ultrasound to influence transport in porous hydrogels with a transducer attached in direct contact with the hydrogel. This is a different configuration than for ultrasound-generating devices utilized previously for enhancing transport of molecules. The advantages of the system reported in this manuscript are that (i) much less acoustic power is required to influence the transport in the hydrogel that is in direct contact with the ultrasonic transducer, and (ii) no cavitation is induced in the hydrogel to influence the transport. This system was first tested in bench-top in vitro experiments by quantifying the transport of gold nanoparticles stimulated by low-frequency ultrasound. Then, to provide an in vivo example for potential biotechology applications, the system was demonstrated to be capable of transporting drugs across the tunics of a rabbit eye into the ocular circulation so as to target the transported drug to the outer retina.
The field of biotechnology is large and could be considered tritely as simply the development of technology that is based on biology. It is clear that the concepts of biotechnology can spread to cover many different fields of application and so the future developments in biotechnology will be similarly wide-ranging across many fields of applications. Here we focus onto medical biotechnology and further refine our discussion onto considering aspects of genetics and nanotechnologies that could impact on the development of future biotechnologies in the medical field. These areas that we consider in this brief article provide the basis for a panel discussion on Future Biotechnology at the European Biotechnology Congress held in Valencia, Spain in April 2019.
We report our approach to creating a microfluidic chip (namely UroLOC) that mimics the acinar/tubular structure and the luminal microenvironment of exocrine glands. The chip utilises a nanostructured membrane that is designed to provide a 3-dimensional supporting scaffold for the growth of exocrine acinus epithelial cells. The nanostructured membrane was produced using layer-by-layer assembly of polyelectrolytes, and formed into 3-dimensional hemispherical cavities and “finger-like” structures in order to mimic the natural architecture of acini found in exocrine glands. We utilised normal (PNT2) and cancerous (PC3, LNCaP) prostate epithelial cells to demonstrate the proof-of-concept of using MALDI (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation) profiling of secretions collected after 48 hours of cell growth, with no concentration or purification steps and without any a priori on the knowledge of targeted proteins. This MALDI profiling analysis of the crude supernatants from 3 different cell lines (PNT2, PC3 and LNCaP) demonstrated the capacity of the MALDI profiling approach to discriminate between the different secretome signatures. The UroLOC concept and secretome profiling that we describe opens new opportunities in terms of liquid-biopsy based diagnosis, particularly for the early stages of carcinogenesis.