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Engineering Tomorrow’s Medical Therapies - Ubiquitous problem solving

Event organised by Ingenieurs et Scientifique de France

09 November 2020

This event has now ended


What do planes, flowing blood, ship propellers, solid tumours, and spinal discs have in common?

Engineering is not just a set of skills, but a way of thinking that leads to unconventional and ubiquitous problem-solving. Core expertise in fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, acoustics and waves, and control engineering can find wide-ranging applicability across several medical disciplines ranging from transplantation to oncology, orthopaedic surgery, dermatology and even immunology. 

This lecture will first describe the development of the worlds’ first normothermic organ perfusion device, intended to fool organs intended for transplantation into thinking that they are still inside the body during preservation. From initial concept to pre-clinical validation, first-in-human trials and widespread commercial and clinical adoption, the challenges and opportunities associated with translating research into technology to achieve biomedical impact will be discussed.

The portability of engineering skills into other disciplines will then be explored. The concepts of sheer stress and yield strength are just as applicable to human cells and biological tissues as they are to man-made structures. Mechanical and thermal stresses caused by physical modalities, such as ultrasound, can be exploited to enable non-invasive and minimally invasive surgery to destroy, repair or replace tissues selectively at depth within the body. Repairing the intervertebral disc to restore spinal function will be put forward as a case study.

In cancer, tumour physiology presents a formidable barrier to the delivery of current and emerging anticancer therapeutics, including small-molecule-containing nanomedicines, oncolytic viruses, and therapeutic antibodies. Engineering-based approaches for enhancing mass transport thus have a major role to play in enabling drugs to overcome the elevated intratumoural pressure, sparse vascularity and dense extracellular matrix encountered in the majority of solid tumours. These physical transport mechanisms are also directly applicable to facilitating transport of vaccines across the skin, and in stimulating immune responses in patients, further enhancing the relevance and potential impact of engineering in helping the world move past the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information please contact:

Shelly-Ann Russell