Engineering 101

How 3D Mapping Technology Can Help Patients with Organ and Cell Damage

By Dawn Allcot

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The global tissue engineering market, which involves healing or replacing cells and organs damaged by medical treatments, is expected to reach $11.5 billion by 2022. Cells and organs often remain damaged following the diagnosis and treatment of deadly diseases like cancer. Researchers and medical scientists are working to devise new and better ways to repair or replace damaged tissues, but challenges remain.


For instance, doctors and researchers have struggled with ways to continuously monitor and test the performance of engineered tissues and cells that replaced damaged ones. Until now.

Purdue University researchers have come up with a 3D mapping technology to monitor and track the behavior of the engineered cells and tissues and improve the success rate for patients who have already faced a debilitating disease. 

“Tissue engineering already provides new hope for hard-to-treat disorders, and our technology brings even more possibilities,” said Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering, who leads the research team.

The Purdue team created a tissue scaffold with sensor arrays in a stackable design that can monitor electrophysiological activities of cells and tissues. The technology uses the information to produce 3D maps to track activity.

“This device offers an expanded set of potential options to monitor cell and tissue function after surgical transplants in diseased or damaged bodies,” Lee said. “Our technology offers diverse options for sensing and works in moist internal body environments that are typically unfavorable for electronic instruments.”

Lee said the Purdue device is an ultra-buoyant scaffold that allows the entire structure to remain afloat on the cell culture medium, providing complete isolation of the entire electronic instrument from the wet conditions inside the body.

Lee and his team have been working with Sherry Harbin, a professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, to test the device in stem cell therapies with potential applications in the regenerative treatment of diseases.

Lee and the other researchers worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the device.

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