Performers Cited for ‘Best of Biomimicry in 2013′

DTRA CB/JSTO-funded researcher work on biomedical devices for drug delivery, nanofabrication, and cell manipulation was recognized as one of the most notable bio-inspired developments of the year by a source reporting on environmental and scientific news.

Bioinspired magnetically propelled helical microswimmers based on the spiral vessels of vascular plant. (Courtesy: Wei Gao, University of California, San Diego and the American Chemical Society)

Bioinspired magnetically propelled helical microswimmers based on the spiral vessels of vascular plant. (Courtesy: Wei Gao, University of California, San Diego and the American Chemical Society)

This breakthrough opens the doors for new drug delivery, nanofabrication, and cell manipulation for multiple applications within the future development of advanced targeted drug delivery systems and biocompatible catalytic medical and decontamination countermeasures to better protect and treat warfighters and civilian first responders.

The work, managed by Dr. Brian Pate of DTRA CB and performed by the scientists, including Wei Gao and Joseph Wang of the University of California, San Diego, made the list of the top 10 best of biomimicry, published by GreenBiz.com.

The article, “Dragonflies and frogs inspired the best of biomimicry in 2013,” described their recent discovery that the xylem support structure in vascular plants, made of chiral crystalline cellulose, can be engineered to produce cheap and biocompatible scaffolds for magnetically-propelled future biomedical devices.

The team also had its work published in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters article, “Bioinspired Helical Microswimmers Based on Vascular Plants,” where the researchers derived helical microstructures from spiral water-conducting vessels of different plants.

The scientists were able to harness the intrinsic biological structures of nature and manipulate the geometric variables, such as the helix diameter and pitch, which afforded them control of the mechanical stretching to allow for the precise fabrication and consistent performance of helical microswimmers.

The group has been successful in separating a range of bacteria, viruses, and biomolecules from complex matrices using nanostructured micromotors, and is currently working in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratory, to exploit their understanding to develop inexpensive assays.

Story by John Davis
Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department

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