Biomedical Engineering

PERfECT Viral Sewage Monitoring System

Sewage monitoring is an effective preventive measure to detect possible outbreaks early due to viral sheds in sewage systems. However, the current sewage monitoring system is labour-intensive, time-consuming, and lacks scalability. Here, we present our PERfECT viral sewage monitoring system, which is scalable, digital, and can detect viral presence in real time.

PERfECT is a personalized electronic reader for electrochemical transistors that detects viruses when a DNA aptamer is attached to its sensor. Once the virus is detected, the data will be uploaded to the cloud and alert authorities. PERfECT viral detection is much faster than PCR and is reusable. With PERfECT being customisable, it can also monitor the disease progression of different viruses.

AMPed

Antimicrobial resistance is a global phenomenon arising from the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. To combat this problem, the Antimicrobial Peptide Cecropin B (CecB), a highly-effective, broad-spectrum antibiotic alternative is expressed in transgenic Chlorella autotrophica, a well-studied and highly-productive protein expressing microalgal chassis. It is expressed with a secretion signal peptide for extraction; and SUMO-tag for in-vitro cleavage using SUMO-protease. To validate efficacy, the isolated CecB is tested against common aquatic pathogens. The in-vitro cleavage system, barring the signal peptide, is also expressed using a bacterial chassis. This is to test the design and quantify the differences between microalgal and bacterial synthetic capabilities. To modify the system for industrial use, the signal peptide is removed and the SUMO-protease is additionally inserted, under a nitrogen-starvation inducible promoter, to cleave SUMO in-vivo and generate active AMPs. The microalgae are then freeze-dried, preserving active AMPs internally, which can then be used as supplemental feed.

test

Diabetes is one the most pressing chronic diseases in Hong Kong. There are about 0.7 million people in Hong Kong are suffering from diabetes. Realizing efficient blood glucose management is highly demanded to improve the patients’ healthcare. Currently, the blood glucose is mostly measured with the finger-stick method. However, the finger-stick method is painful and cannot continuously monitor the glucose level. This project develops a minimally invasive glucose biosensor by using a microneedle as sensor carrier and use HKU-developed “PERfECT wearable” platform for wireless data transmission. We hope this project could improve the health technology in Hong Kong to better serve the patients with diabetes.

PERfECT Wearables: for Minimally-Invasive and Continuous Blood-Glucose Monitoring

Diabetes is one the most pressing chronic diseases in Hong Kong. There are about 0.7 million people in Hong Kong are suffering from diabetes. Realizing efficient blood glucose management is highly demanded to improve the patients’ healthcare. Currently, the blood glucose is mostly measured with the finger-stick method. However, the finger-stick method is painful and cannot continuously monitor the glucose level. This project develops a minimally invasive glucose biosensor by using a microneedle as sensor carrier and use HKU-developed “PERfECT wearable” platform for wireless data transmission. We hope this project could improve the health technology in Hong Kong to better serve the patients with diabetes.

Development of compact cell-assay platform for democratizing microgravity cell biology research

Space tourism and travel is coming to reality very soon thanks to the development by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. It is expected to have more people going up to space. EuniceScope is a compact 2D clinostat system with an in-built brightfield microscope to study the morphological change of biological cells. Physiological effects of microgravity have been proved influential, with degrading effects on bones, skeletal muscles and blood cells; and various stimulating effects on stem cells. It is thus of pivotal importance for investigating space travellers’ health on cellular level. The current ground-based microgravity simulating platforms for biological studies are bulky, lack reconfigurability and continuous monitoring. EuniceScope has advantages of lightweight, compact, a high degree of reconfigurability and democratization, filling the gap of current systems’ limitations. High imaging quality and microgravity simulating performance are achieved. Thus, EuniceScope holds huge potential for further development, including tissue engineering, democratization and application to different fields.

Smart Glove — Extension of the Tactile Sense

The tactile sense is critical for visually impaired people to sense the world, but one shortcoming is that they can not feel the object in the distance. This can cause many problems, such as pumping into the obstacles when using the hands or being less efficient in grasping the handrail on transportation. However, many on-market products focus on large-scale assisting instead of this smaller one. So, we are considering developing a glove that can transduce the distance information to vibration intensity to realize the extension of the tactile sense. Currently, we are using three pairs of ultrasonic distance sensors and vibration motors fixed on three sides of the glove to help the user sense the obstacles. Further development such as minifying the hardware, connecting to the Bluetooth, or developing AI is needed to reduce the discomfort caused by the glove and increase its functionality in assisting the users.

Oxiglasses

It is a portable and hand-free pulse oximeter where it consists of a eyeglasses probe with see-through panel. Real-time display of heart beat rate and SpO2 level can be observed by using a reflective sensor located near-ear. It can be apply on firemen’s protective helmet to check their SpO2 level during rescue which can prevent them suffer from hypoxemia.

Depression Testor

Depression is a prevalent disorder that impairs psychosocial functioning and lowers the quality of life. Low mood, loss of energy, sleeplessness, and an inability to enjoy life are depression’s significant symptoms. World Health Organization ranked unipolar depressive disorder as the third cause of disease burden in 2004 and expected it to be the leading cause by 2030. For this disease, a low diagnosis rate is a big problem, partially because of the current technology’s limitations, such as clinical-based, trigger-less, costly. So, our project comes up with a novel idea by using flash stimulus and GSR sensor to test people’s physiological reactions towards different triggers for self-prevention and preliminary diagnosis use.

PERfECT Wearables: A Coin-sized Platform for Health Innovation

Tiny, soft, imperceptible wearable biosensors that can continuously monitor our body condition have the potential to revolutionize healthcare technologies. They are in urgent demand to realize the goal of personalized healthcare and digital medicine. In this project, we developed a series of next-generation wearable biosensors for advanced healthcare. These futuristic devices are developed based on the PERfECT chip, which is the world’s smallest wearable biosensing platform developed in Innovation Wing. In the next several years, we expect these wearables biosensors will help PERfECT-enabled spin-off biotech companies to revolutionize our current technologies in managing cardiovascular diseases, mental health, and diabetes.

Introducing SURGIVIEW: A Fast and Accurate Augmented Reality(AR) Application Supporting End-to-End Clinical Operations

SURGIVIEW is a holographic augmented reality (AR) application that can assist end-to-end surgical support for minimally invasive surgeries (MIS). This app can overlay holographic anatomic structure on physical tissue, so surgeons can see “through” patient’s body during operation. Incorporating a novel triplet-calibration algorithm, the app can achieve accurate overlay (re-projection error < 5mm) faster than most of the current strategies for less than 8 seconds. Aiming for use among medical community including surgeons, patients and medical residents, the app has multiple functions to support from pre-operative planning, intra-operative navigation to post-operative demonstration. With SURGIVIEW, we hope to develop a more intuitive and interactive future of clinical and surgery practices.