Biotechnologies & Health Enhancement
Biotech promises to boost understanding of our bodies, unravelling the marvels of our brains. Marrying up new knowledge with new technologies could see cutting-edge therapies for cardiorespiratory and neurological diseases, amputees recovering the sense of touch and bionic hands that think for themselves. We could also see new ways of manufacturing biopharmaceuticals.
Explore other themes of FET research
Stories in Biotech & Health
Next-generation drug targeting using natural extracellular vesicles
Utilising a cell’s own molecular delivery system could enable specific biomedical treatments
International Women’s Day: Female scientists share their thoughts on gender balance in modern research
Women working in a Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) project muse on 2019’s theme of #BalanceforBetter.
Can nanotechnology rewire an injured spinal cord?
Saving lives during cancer surgery by separating the good from the bad
Research projects in this field
The SimpleSkin project aims at starting the era of smart clothing. The idea is to incorporate advanced sensing systems into garments. This way it could be possibile to collect vast amounts of information on the physiological parameters of the wearer, such as pulse and breathing rate. This line of search is part of the effort towards the development of new-generation personal monitoring systems.
The FutureAgriculture projects aims at designing a synthetic enzyme to improve natural photorespiration in plants. This is pursued by combining disparate lines of investigation such as computational biology, microbiology and plant physiology. If successful, the project may significantly improve agricultural productivity and help feed billions of people worldwide.
The goal of EVOPROG is to design a machine capable of producing new biomolecules. The machine is based on the use of viruses, which modify the DNA of bacteria and make them produce the desired molecules. If successful, EVOPROG could significantly accelerate the development of new drugs and antibiotics.
The Brain Bow project focuses on the development of innovative neuroprostheses. The main goal is to restore neuronal connections and activity among in-vitro neurons by connecting them to an artificial system. This technique may be used in the future to treat the consequences of damages to the brain tissues caused by accidents or strokes.
The goal of the ExCAPE project is to significantly accelerate the development of new drugs. The idea is to combine machine learning and supercomputers to rapidly design new molecules and increase the efficiency of drug testing.
The goal of the MRG-GRammar project is to develop a new approach for deciphering the “language of DNA”. This approach will make use of interdisciplinary investigation lines to shed light on the regulatory code of the genes. The results of the project may lead to personal therapies based on the patient’s DNA.
The Swarm-Organ Project worked on developing new algorithms in swarm robotics to make it more efficient. Rather than looking to the insect world as previous studies in swarm technology have done, the project studied cell behaviour to extrapolate organisation principles derived from GRNs (gene regulatory networks). The project carried out successful demonstrations of robots emulating cell behaviour, particularly in terms of regeneration behaviour.
The goal of the Symbitron project is the development of personalized wearable exoskeleton for motor-impaired people. These complement the patient’s remaining motor functions to let people walk without further assistance. The project also designs training environments and protocols for patients and their doctors.
Ribonets developed a set of synthetic RNA-based devices (biological algorithms). The synthetic RNA toolbox also knows as “RNAblueprint” will help advance cellular computing and facilitate a host of new biological solutions. These genetically customized solutions could have the potential to cure a host of genetic diseases deemed untreatable so far.
The HELICoiD project has developed a new method to discriminate between healthy and malignant tissues during surgeries. The approach is based on real-time hyperspectral images of the operated organ and on mathematical models determining how these change in the presence of cancer cells. The technique may lead to great improvements in the cancer treatment.
The ByAxon project aims to develop a new generation of sensors and electrodes based on nanotechnology materials for neural interfacing directly at the spinal cord level. The idea is to exploit the enhanced properties of nanostructured materials to develop less-invasive and more-efficient sensors that will allow tackling not only the brain but also the spinal cord with a long-lasting device replacing the present rigid metallic plates in chronic implants. The technology developed in this project could serve as a basis for a new generation of advanced neural interfaces applications with utility in retinal implants, brain-recording systems for patients with epilepsy, and deep brain stimulation devices for Parkinson disease.
The AMECRYS project targets to boost medical advancement and efficiency in biopharmaceutical productions by revolutionising the Downstream Processing (DSP) operations in the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. The idea is to achieve the separation and purification of therapeutic proteins with innovative membrane crystallization technology overcoming chromatography with all of its disadvantages as well as costs. The research activity is focused on the downstream processing of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), one of the most important class of therapeutic proteins in modern medicine, which are used in a wide range of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular, autoimmune, and inflammation.
VES4US wants to develop a radically new platform for the efficient production and functionalisation of extracellular vesicles, for the exploitation of the results in the fields of nanomedicine, cosmetics and nutraceutics. This will be accomplished by loading with specific cargoes directly in isolated extracellular vesicles or by the modulation of producer cells.