Selected Projects

Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles
CCMX Self-Care Materials

The project's vision was to develop novel 1D platforms (i.e. fibers) able to monitor changes in their environment and respond autonomously, leading to novel technologies for the healthcare, clothing, food, and prevention sectors. Indeed, the project led to the development of multimaterial and hybrid fibers able to react to stimuli like tempereature, pH, light, and electricity, and either respond through the delivery of drugs, monitor the changes in the environment, transport and transform the signal and to interact with cells or tissues.

This was achieved by advancing our knowledge of polymeric fibers' chemistry, structure, and function - resulting in new relationships between fibers' crystallinity, size, and mechanical strength, for instance - and advancing our ability to process materials using different methods for the defined release of active substances.

Drug equipped polymer fibers - Medication you can wear - October 11, 2018

Partner: EPFL, Prof. Fabien Sorin

Contact: Prof. Dr. René M. Rossi

One main innovation pillar of the project 'ReMask' was to provide solutions for reusable mask. Our research clearly identified benefits of washable textile masks in contrast to single use products. It was further investigated that washing in a household washing machine is sufficient to inactivate the virus and that the washing process has minor effect on the overall ecological footprint, if average machine filling loads are considered.

Consequently, masks consisting of textile fabrics (like woven or knitted structures) in the combination with the right membrane material can provide a safe and sustainable alternative compared to surgical masks. Additional performance beyond state-of-the-art ca be achieved by antiviral surface treatments and new nanofiber technologies. Nanofibers are two orders of magnitude lower in weight (waste reduction) compared to state-of-the-art meltblown nonwovens and can be spun with biodegradable and compostable materials.

Partners: Prof. Véronique Michaud, EPFL, Prof. Jing Wang, ETH Zürich and Dr. Gilles Richner, Labor Spiez

Projekt 'ReMask' 01.05.2020-31.05.2021

Contact: Prof. Dr. René M. Rossi

ProTex: Wearable textile sensor to protect against pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers (PU) continue to be disturbingly prevalent. PU mostly affects persons who cannot reposition themselves. They heal slowly or even remain, are always a risk for serious infections and require surgery in serious cases. Hence treatment is complex, demanding and expensive. Therefor the best treatment is the prevention. Pressure has been historically considered as the main cause for PU development.

Blood an oxygen supply also play an importtant role in PU development. The aim of this proposal is to build and test new textile tools to non-invasively, quantitatively, simultaneoulsy and safely monitor pressure and oxygenation in tissue at risk for PU over a long time period and without creating external pressure points. The proposed system consists of a photonic, textile-based sensor with the ability to measure oxygenation, based on near infrared sprectroscopy (NIRS) and pressure, based spatially resolved optical fibers.

The final wearable textile will provide a mean to non-invasively measure and monitor the pressure and the superficial and deeper tissue oxygenation in paraplegics and during surgery. This texile will enable long-term monitoring of paraplegics and short-term monitoring in critical ill patient.

Project partners: Prof. Urula Wolf (University of Bern) and Prof. Guido Piai (OST)

Contact: Dr. Luciano F. Boesel
TeleFlow: Remote-controlled adaptive materials for tailored transdermal delivery applications

Transdermal drug delivery offers a number af advantages for patients due to its non-invasive nature, the prevenation of drug degration in the gastrointestinal tract, and the avoidance of first pass metabolism. However, overpassing the skin barrier remains the main challenge for most potential drugs and active substances. Moreover, conventional, passive diffusion delivery systems offer a single delivery kinetics irrespective of patient needs. Responsive polymers could offer an elegant solution to this problem, by allowing the kinetics of delivery be tailored on-demand by the application of an external, non-contact stimulus such as light, magnetic, or electric field. Their incorporation into materials for transdermal delivery would then both solve the 'one patch fits all' dilemma, as well as contribute to increase the number of drugs and/or active substances able to be delivered through the skin. In this project we will address these issues by working on two concepts: the use of a cascade of responses to switch light-responsive hydrogels , and the inclusion of a light-responsive and fluorescent moieties to create a mixed (multi-stimuli responsive) system. We will first develop a new class of light-adaptive system, based on a recentls developed photochrome donor-acceptor Stenhouse adducts (DASAs).

They will be investigated as triggers and incorporated into light responsive membranes. These compounds present a very large polarity change and stability, and may be switched using only visible light. The work will be concentrated on synthesizing DASA photoswitches, modifying them to allow copolymerization with acrylate monomers, and producing membranes or coatings with these funcional monomers. Additionally, we will investigate the funadmentals of an innovative system: a multi-responsive system, where photochromes will be combined with responsive fluorescent dyes. Upon activation of the dye, it will emit light in the wavelenght used for switching the photochrome, thereby effectively generating changes in the permeability of the system. The same DASA photochromes as described above will be used in this task, where a mixed system (e.g.,pH/light-responsive) will be developed. Both systems will allow the achievement of a wider and finer switchability in a property and will be investigated for their applications in transdermal delivery materials, specifically as components of microneedle arrays.

Project partners: Prof. Nico Bruns (University Strathclyde) and Prof. Javier Read de Alaniz (UCSB)

Contact: Dr. Luciano F. Boesel

WoundSense: Spatially resolved, integrated lab-on-fiber fluorescence sensor for the monitoring of chronic and acute wounds

Chronic wounds such as venous and diabetic foot ulcers affect 1-2% of the population and represent 2-4% of healthcare expenses, simultaneously, major acute injuries represent the mots common causes of death and disability in the developed world. Management of chronic and acute wound remains challenging: available methods based on visual signs and symptoms provide limited accuracy abd strongly rely on the practitioner's experience, moreover wound care technologies lack sufficient evidence of their impact to objectively support their utilization.

In this project, we expolit our expertise in sensing chemistry, medical textiles, and multimaterial fibers, to realize a non-invasive multisensing platform for monitoring metabolites in wound exudate. The goals of 'WoundSense' then are: the further development of our technologies to improve their sesivity, specificity abd robustness; the incorporation of time and spatial resolved detection of those metabolites; and the validation of the technologies in clinical setting.

Although 'WoundSense' focus on wound healing, the development of innovative optical sensing approaches will be beneficial for the monitoring of metabolites in wound or sweat indicative of other illnesses, such as psoriasis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovasular or infectious diseases.

Project Partner: Prof. Fabien Sorin (EPFL) and Dr. Paolo Cinelli (USZ)

Contact: Prof. Dr. René M. Rossi and Dr. Luciano Boesel