New centre to develop nanorobots, 4D printing, nanobiosensors

The University of Sydney will develop a bioengineering research facility which will explore the development and use of nanorobots, and 3D and 4D printed bone implants.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for Innovative BioEngineering is funded through the ARC, the University of Sydney, and the New South Wales government. The head of the centre, Hala Zreiqat, has worked to created 3D printed materials including tendons, ligaments, and bones.

“The centre aims to provide researchers with the interdisciplinary skills and mentorship to be leaders in the rapidly evolving, highly innovative field of bioengineering,” she said.

Some of the projects that the centre will pursue include the development of nanorobots which can identify and kill cancerous cells in humans. These magnetic nanoparticles can be navigated to a tumour and release molecules of drugs that kill the cancer cells.

In addition, the centre will draw upon the research of Mohammad Mirkhalaf, who has patented 3D and 4D printing techniques which can mimic bones, teeth, and enamel.

Activated by light, the devices once printed can be used in the musculoskeletal system.

“The printing process duplicates the way naturally durable materials grow, resulting in bioceramic implants with the overall shape, internal architecture, biology and mechanics like natural products, such as bone,” said Mirkhalaf.

Other technologies being pioneered by the centre are nanobiosensors that can detect diseases, before they become fatal.

The sensors use electronic, optical, or magnetic sensing technology to measure chemicals and biomolecular activity inside a patient, described PhD student Pooria Lesani.

“Early diagnosis of disease generally increases the chances of successful treatment. We hope the development of fluorescent nanobiosensors will allow for non-invasive and accurate detection of potential diseases and disorders at the very early stages,” he said.