57: Medicine in the Future

UTC’s Bio­me­chan­ics and Bio­engi­neer­ing Lab­o­ra­to­ry (BMBI), a UTC-CNRS joint research unit since it was estab­lished in 1982, is ded­i­cat­ed to engi­neer­ing for health, a field in which UTC, a leader in France, was a pio­neer. Work com­bin­ing bio­me­chan­ics of the liv­ing (whether human or ani­mal), and bio­engi­neer­ing, car­ried out by sci­en­tists in three research teams. Fields of research that cov­er, for exam­ple, the theme of age­ing, the repair of valves in the case of func­tion­al mitral insuf­fi­cien­cy, the mod­el­ling of lymph flow, organs- on- a‑chip devices or, more recent­ly, the ques­tions sur­round­ing green dial­y­sis. These are all areas that are shap­ing the Med­i­cine of the Future.

Cécile Legal­lais is a senior research direc­tor with the CNRS. Since Jan­u­ary 2018, she has been direc­tor of the UTC’s Bio­me­chan­ics and Bio­engi­neer­ing Lab­o­ra­to­ry (BMBI), a joint UTC/CNRS research unit since its cre­ation in 1982. 

With some 7 per­son­nel, includ­ing – aca­d­e­m­ic pro­fes­sors, research sci­en­tists, con­tract researchers and tech­ni­cal staff -, UTC-BMBI is organ­ised around 3 research teams ded­i­cat­ed to health engi­neer­ing, a field where the UTC has always been a pio­neer in France. “This research inves­ti­gates the bio­me­chan­ics of liv­ing organ­isms, both human and ani­mal, and their bio­engi­neer­ing aspects, where we will com­bine approach­es from the engi­neer­ing sci­ences with those from the bio­log­i­cal sci­ences involv­ing the study of tis­sues or cells,” explains Prof. Cécile Legallais. 

Can you iden­ti­fy some objec­tives? “The aim is to con­tribute, through devices or meth­ods, to improv­ing the health of patients. By under­stand­ing how the body, a par­tic­u­lar organ or tis­sue func­tions, we can pro­pose meth­ods of treat­ment, diag­no­sis and even repair through arti­fi­cial organs or tis­sue engi­neer­ing,” she explains. 

What are the research themes of the var­i­ous teams? “One team is work­ing on the per­son­alised char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and mod­el­ling of the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem. In this case, we seek to under­stand the func­tion­ing of the entire body, such as our mus­cles, ten­dons or bones. The sec­ond team look at our car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem and more gen­er­al­ly in the flow of blood and lymph in the body, using a mul­ti-scale approach. These two teams com­bine exper­i­men­ta­tion and mod­el­ling and rely in par­tic­u­lar on med­ical imag­ing tech­niques. The 3rd team spe­cialis­es in tis­sue engi­neer­ing, the aim of which is to recon­struct tis­sues or even organs — skin, liv­er, nerves, etc. — with dif­fer­ent tools (liv­ing mate­ri­als and cells). — with dif­fer­ent tools (mate­ri­als and liv­ing cells) and at dif­fer­ent scales,’ explains Cécile Legallais. 

This research is of great inter­est to the clin­i­cal world. This is reflect­ed in the increas­ing num­ber of part­ner­ships with the med­ical world. “We are work­ing with the Amiens Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal and, in par­tic­u­lar, Pro­fes­sor Devauchelle’s ‘Faire Faces’ Insti­tute. We also have agreed to col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hos­pi­tal on dia­betes and sar­cope­nia, in oth­er words, the age­ing of the body, with the Hen­ri-Mon­dor Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal on heart valves and with the Paul-Brousse Hos­pi­tal on liv­er patholo­gies and the bioar­ti­fi­cial liv­er project. More recent­ly, we have been inter­est­ed in green dial­y­sis in var­i­ous nephrol­o­gy depart­ments,’ she concludes.

Near­ly 50,000 peo­ple suf­fer­ing from kid­ney fail­ure in France require treat­ment by haemodial­y­sis or an arti­fi­cial kid­ney. These are peo­ple wait­ing for a kid­ney trans­plant or who can­not be transplanted. 

For a long time the notion of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in the field of health care was unheard of, since access to health care for the entire pop­u­la­tion was con­sid­ered to be a sus­tain­able devel­op­ment objec­tive per se. 

But things are chang­ing and the envi­ron­men­tal impact of cer­tain tech­niques is begin­ning to be ques­tioned. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true of dial­y­sis pro­to­cols. “First of all, it requires very com­plex med­ical devices that have to be pro­duced, trans­port­ed, etc. It is also very “greedy” in terms of sin­gle-use plas­tics — 1.5 kg of them/ dial­y­sis, thrown away per patient and per ses­sion. There is also the trans­port of patients to the cen­tres and final­ly the con­sump­tion of water. It should be not­ed that 400 litres of water are used to pro­duce the dial­y­sis flu­id for each ses­sion. In the end, each patient con­sumes 75 m³ (75 tonnes) of water per year,” explains Cécile Legallais. 

It was in Moroc­co, where the prob­lem of water short­age is obvi­ous, that the ques­tion of dial­y­sis came up. “It all start­ed four years ago when Ahmed Abarkan, a stu­dent of Pro­fes­sor Sqal­li Hous­saïni, head of the nephrol­o­gy depart­ment at Fez Hos­pi­tal, who was work­ing on the prob­lem of recy­cling dial­y­sis water, con­tact­ed me to do his the­sis under our joint super­vi­sion,” she points out. 

What then is the theme of the the­sis? “How to reduce the envi­ron­men­tal impact of dial­y­sis? It should be not­ed that the reverse osmo­sis process used gen­er­ates the dis­charge of large quan­ti­ties of mod­er­ate­ly salty water. How can we desali­nate it so that it can be reused? We worked on this prob­lem in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pro­fes­sor Gri­mi of UTC’s TIMR lab­o­ra­to­ry and the dial­y­sis cen­tre of the Saint-Côme poly­clin­ic, Com­piègne, a long-stand­ing part­ner of the lab,’ she concludes.

Co-lead­ers of the team (C2MUST) with­in the UTC-BMBI lab­o­ra­to­ry, Karim El Kirat and Sofi­ane Boudaoud are both tenured UTC professors. 

A team devot­ed to inves­ti­gat­ing the “Char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and per­son­alised mod­el­ling of our mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem”. So, what their respec­tive areas of research? “I work main­ly on the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion and bio­me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties of bones, whether human or ani­mal. I also lead the trans­verse pro­gramme ‘Bio­me­chan­ics of bio­mimet­ic and bioin­spired sys­tems’ involv­ing the lab’s three teams. And what is the under­ly­ing the­mat­ic? “The idea is to be inspired, for our often clin­i­cal pur­pos­es, by the struc­tures and prop­er­ties seen in humans and in nature in order to man­u­fac­ture med­ical devices. The shape and mechan­i­cal prop­er­ties of a tib­ia pros­the­sis, for exam­ple, must be as close as pos­si­ble to a nat­ur­al tib­ia,” explains Karim El Kirat. 

More con­crete­ly? “In my field, which con­cerns the man­u­fac­ture of bone in vit­ro, it is extreme­ly impor­tant that the bone, on a micro­scop­ic scale, has all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of nat­ur­al bone but also all its mechan­i­cal prop­er­ties. Why is this so? “The mate­ri­als devel­oped must be able to be inte­grat­ed into the body, be recog­nised as a non-tox­ic mate­r­i­al and final­ly dis­play the expect­ed bio­me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties,’ he adds. “This is an area where mod­el­ling plays a major role. “My work focus­es on sig­nal pro­cess­ing and mod­el­ling. These are bio­med­ical sig­nals and, more par­tic­u­lar­ly, elec­tro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal sig­nals obtained from mea­sure­ments of biocur­rents on the sur­face of the human body. With­in C2MUST, we have con­sid­er­able exper­tise in sur­face elec­tromyo­g­ra­phy (EMG). One of the team’s strong themes con­cerns the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the neu­ro-mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem thanks to mul­ti­ple, var­ied and com­ple­men­tary mea­sure­ments; mea­sure­ments that can be mechan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal and non­in­va­sive”, Sofi­ane Boudaoud explains. 

This is how the out­lines of a future med­i­cine based on increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful mod­els are tak­ing shape. “We think that, in the future, med­i­cine will be pre­dic­tive, pre­ven­tive and per­son­alised. It will be pos­si­ble to make diag­noses, some­times with the help of the mod­el, before the onset of patholo­gies; robust, ear­ly and pre­cise diag­noses, made using the least inva­sive tech­niques pos­si­ble, accept­able to the patient. To achieve this, we will rely on sig­nal pro­cess­ing, advanced data analy­sis, bioin­spired and bio­mimet­ic mod­el­ling. Thus, the mod­els of the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem on which we are work­ing have been cre­at­ed to mim­ic nat­ur­al behav­iour in both healthy and patho­log­i­cal con­di­tions. The aim is to pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, in oth­er words, diag­nos­tic assis­tance to the clin­i­cian who is going to make a med­ical deci­sion,’ he explains. 

They apply this know-how to a vari­ety of prob­lems, par­tic­u­lar­ly the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the age­ing of the mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem. “We know that by 2050 one in three peo­ple will be over 60 and one in ten over 80. There is also the fact, demon­strat­ed by the sta­tis­tics, of the increase in seden­tary behav­iour, par­tic­u­lar­ly among young peo­ple. Thus, 15–25 year olds today walk less than the 55–65 year old gen­er­a­tion. The con­comi­tance of these two phe­nom­e­na will lead to an accel­er­a­tion of the prob­lems of age­ing and loss of auton­o­my. This will pose a real pub­lic health prob­lem,” he explains. 

Among the team’s medi­um-term objec­tives? “Our aim is to devel­op devices worn on the per­son and con­nect­ed to the mobile phone that can indi­cate, for exam­ple, to a per­son suf­fer­ing from joint pain in the knees or mus­cu­lar weak­ness that his or her gait shows all the signs of an immi­nent fall,” says Karim El Kirat. 

“In a part­ner­ship with Pro­fes­sor Kin­u­gawa of the AP-HP (pub­lic hos­pi­tals) and the Sor­bonne Uni­ver­si­ty Clus­ter, (SU) we have also devel­oped an indi­ca­tor called “motor func­tion­al age” which may be dif­fer­ent from the chrono­log­i­cal age. The idea is to alert young and old alike to the state of age­ing of their mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem,” adds Sofi­ane Boudaoud. 

This prob­lem has led to an indus­tri­al part­ner­ship. “As part of the French nation­al eco­nom­ic recov­ery plan, we obtained a project with BioSeren­i­ty, a com­pa­ny spe­cial­is­ing in con­nect­ed devices”. What is the aim here? “It is to be able to eval­u­ate age­ing using elec­tromyo­g­ra­phy,” he concludes.

Muriel Vayssade is pro­fes­sor of Cell Biol­o­gy and Tis­sue Engi­neer­ing and is in charge of the Bio­ma­te­r­i­al Cells and Biore­ac­tors (CBB) team with­in the UTC-BMBI lab­o­ra­to­ry. Rachid Jel­lali, a research engi­neer, has a trans­verse role giv­en that he works with both the CBB and IFSB (Bio­log­i­cal Flu­id Struc­ture Inter­ac­tions) teams. 

What is tis­sue engi­neer­ing? “First of all, it is an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary field that brings in and com­bines biol­o­gy, chem­istry, phys­i­cal chem­istry and bio­me­chan­ics. The under­ly­ing idea is to be able to recon­struct in vit­ro tis­sues and even organs with all their nat­ur­al com­plex­i­ty,” explains Muriel Vayssade. 

What tech­niques can be used? “These involve cul­ti­vat­ing sev­er­al cell pop­u­la­tions togeth­er, as a native tis­sue is made up of dif­fer­ent types of cells. The idea? It is to use bio­ma­te­ri­als, nat­ur­al or syn­thet­ic, which will pro­vide a three-dimen­sion­al envi­ron­ment for the cells, and then to find the opti­mal exper­i­men­tal con­di­tions so that they dif­fer­en­ti­ate (spe­cialise) and con­sti­tute a func­tion­al tis­sue, sim­i­lar to a native tis­sue,” she explains. 

The tech­niques have var­i­ous fields of appli­ca­tion. “For exam­ple, we use col­la­gen hydro­gels and fibrob­lasts to recon­sti­tute der­mis (skin tis­sue),” she adds. 

This know-how has led to var­i­ous projects with a num­ber of part­ners. One of these, estab­lished with the Der­ma­tol­ogy Depart­ment of the Amiens Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal, con­cerns the treat­ment of metasta­t­ic melanoma. “Clin­i­cians were con­front­ed with both suc­cess­es and fail­ures and want­ed to under­stand why cer­tain mol­e­cules were effec­tive on one patient and not on anoth­er. We there­fore microen­vi­ron­ment, in which we can cul­ti­vate patients’ tumour cells (iso­lat­ed from biop­sies), test the response of the cells to the treat­ments and thus iden­ti­fy in vit­ro the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the patient to this or that type of mol­e­cule,” says Muriel Vayssade. 

Work in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hanover, Ger­many and financed by the French nation­al ANR is also being car­ried out on the recon­sti­tu­tion of bone, ten­don and mus­cle, in the same con­ti­nu­ity, using a bio­mimet­ic approach. “We are going to use mate­ri­als shaped accord­ing to the desired tis­sue: for exam­ple, asso­ci­at­ed with min­er­als such as hydrox­ya­p­atite (a nat­ur­al com­po­nent of bone), or organ­ised in the form of fibres (like mus­cles) and apply mechan­i­cal stress­es (stretch­ing) in order to encour­age the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of cells into bone, mus­cle, etc.”, she emphasises. 

Anoth­er line of research? “We have set up an organs-on-chip tech­nol­o­gy. The idea? It is to cul­ti­vate cells in microflu­idic devices (a tech­nol­o­gy inspired by micro­elec­tron­ics) or mini-biore­ac­tors. Among the advan­tages of this tech­nol­o­gy, we have in a 3‑dimensional, well-con­trolled microen­vi­ron­ment that can be per­fused and whose shape can be adapt­ed to the organ we want to study. My main goal is to use them in tox­i­col­o­gy to replace ani­mal test­ing in par­tic­u­lar. For exam­ple, in drug screen­ing, many drugs pass the ani­mal test phase and fail because the dif­fer­ence between ani­mal and human phys­i­ol­o­gy is enor­mous,’ explains Rachid Jel­lali. What are the organs con­cerned? “We start­ed work­ing on the liv­er, the ‘metabolis­ing’ organ par excel­lence, and then, step by step, we start­ed look­ing at all the organs that inter­act with the liv­er, such as the kid­neys and the pan­creas, the aim being to repro­duce the inter­ac­tions between sev­er­al organs,” he explains. 

These skills have led to var­i­ous projects with a num­ber of part­ners. One, con­duct­ed joint­ly with two Lille lab­o­ra­to­ries, SMMIL‑E and IEMN, with part­ners HCS Phar­ma and Fluigent, is financed by the ANR. This Mim­Liv­erOnChip project aims to devel­op a bio­mimet­ic liv­er on a chip. The team is also work­ing on projects fund­ed by ANSES (IMITOMICS, LuLi) and the UTC Foun­da­tion, and is using these organs on chips to study the tox­i­c­i­ty of pes­ti­cides on the liv­er and lungs.

Badr Kaoui is a mem­ber of the IFSB (Bio­log­i­cal Flu­id Struc­ture Inter­ac­tions) team in the UTC-BMBI Lab­o­ra­to­ry. His research inter­ests include the numer­i­cal mod­el­ling of flu­id-struc­ture inter­ac­tions cou­pled with trans­port phe­nom­e­na in bio­log­i­cal and bio­med­ical sys­tems. He is an expert in the Boltz­mann net­work method and is a pio­neer in France in the mod­el­ling of lymph pumping. 

Among the appli­ca­tion areas ? “My research is in the bio­med­ical field — the cal­cu­la­tion of flow and mass trans­fer in bio­med­ical sys­tems such as arti­fi­cial organs on microflu­idic chips, for exam­ple — but also in biol­o­gy, in par­tic­u­lar the study of the lym­phat­ic sys­tem. It is thanks to mul­ti­phys­i­cal sim­u­la­tions that we can cal­cu­late, for exam­ple, the flow of a giv­en flu­id and the dif­fu­sion-advec­tion-reac­tion of chem­i­cal enti­ties,” he explains. 

Can you describe one of the tech­niques used for mod­el­ling? “First­ly, the Boltz­mann method. What’s in it for me? It is sim­ple to pro­gram and allows the code to be made increas­ing­ly com­plex depend­ing on the prob­lems dealt with; it can also be eas­i­ly ‘par­al­lelized’, i.e. sim­u­la­tions can be run on sev­er­al proces­sors to reduce the cal­cu­la­tion time; final­ly, it is use­ful for cal­cu­lat­ing both the flow of a flu­id and mass trans­fer. We can also cou­ple the two in the case of the trans­port of a drug by a flu­id such as blood, for exam­ple”, he stresses. 

A numer­i­cal method that he now cou­ples with the immersed bound­ary method, which is more mod­ern, very advanced and par­tic­u­lar­ly well suit­ed to deformable struc­tures. “Thus, if we take the lym­phat­ic sys­tem, we can go from bio­me­chan­ics — the flow of a flu­id in a liv­ing sys­tem — to mechano-biol­o­gy, where we are inter­est­ed in bio­chem­i­cal sig­nals that induce forces that lead to the dynam­ics of the walls and valves of lym­phat­ic ves­sels,” adds Badr Kaoui. 

What is his spe­cif­ic inter­est in the lym­phat­ic sys­tem? “It was when I was at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal (MGH), known world­wide for their exper­tise in can­cer treat­ment that I first heard about the lym­phat­ic sys­tem and its link to can­cer. A com­plex sys­tem that has not been exten­sive­ly stud­ied. Far from shy­ing away from the dif­fi­cul­ty, I decid­ed to make it a new focus of my research and to use all the dig­i­tal tools I had devel­oped,” he explains. A line of research that inter­ests Dr Lance Munn, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­ical School, researcher at the MGH, and also Vis­it­ing Pro­fes­sor at UTC. “We have set up a joint project, financed by the ANR and con­duct­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the MGH, to under­stand the lymph pump­ing mech­a­nism at the ves­sel lev­el,” he says. 

What is spe­cial about the project? “Usu­al­ly, we work on the bio­me­chan­ics and inter­ac­tion of struc­tur­al flu­ids in the UTC-BMBI-IFSB team. In this project, we are going to add bio­chem­istry, the func­tion­ing of valves and then progress towards 3D mod­els,” con­cludes Badr Kaoui.

Khalil Ben Man­sour, a research engi­neer, has been co-direc­tor of the Cen­tre of Exper­tise for the Bio­me­chan­ics of Move­ment since 2020. He designed the ErgoSkel, a han­dling aid, which has been patent­ed nation­al­ly as well as in the Unit­ed States and Japan and will be mar­ket launched in April 2022.

In 2011, he joined UTC for a three­year Euro­pean project ded­i­cat­ed to the devel­op­ment of a diag­nos­tic tool for mus­cu­loskele­tal back dis­or­ders as a post-doc. At the end of the project, he was recruit­ed as a research engi­neer, respon­si­ble for the “Tech­nol­o­gy, sport, health” plat­form, which has since been renamed the “Cen­tre of exper­tise for the bio­me­chan­ics of movement”. 

Among the plat­for­m’s objec­tives? “The aim is to eval­u­ate the move­ments of humans and ani­mals in order to under­stand them bet­ter, to find solu­tions for improv­ing the envi­ron­ment in which they move and to reduce the risks of mus­cu­loskele­tal dis­or­ders, acci­dents, etc. I car­ried out var­i­ous projects in areas such as sport and health, ergonom­ics at work and mon­i­tor­ing reha­bil­i­ta­tion in the med­ical field,’ he explains. 

A recog­nised know-how. The proof is “Ergoskel”, a flag­ship project launched in 2017 at the ini­tia­tive of FM Logis­tic, a com­pa­ny with almost 29 000 employ­ees oper­at­ing in 14 coun­tries in Europe, Asia and Latin Amer­i­ca. “Faced with the num­ber of work stop­pages due to mus­cu­loskele­tal dis­or­ders affect­ing its employ­ees, the com­pa­ny invit­ed us to think about a device that would be light, inex­pen­sive and enable the work­load on the upper limbs to be reduced in order to avoid the onset of limb and back dis­or­ders,” he says. 

The ergoskele­ton, which on sale as of April 2022, is a suc­cess. “It is a device that is worn like a back­pack. It weighs 1.8 kg and can reduce mus­cle fatigue by a fac­tor of three,” con­cludes Khalil Ben Mansour.

Two devices for the treat­ment of func­tion­al mitral insuf­fi­cien­cy are cur­rent­ly the sub­ject of inter­na­tion­al patent applications.

The first one relates to the implan­ta­tion of a bal­loon between the two mitral valve leaflets in order to fill the resid­ual space between them, has already been patent­ed in France and is await­ing inter­na­tion­al patenting. 

How­ev­er, Anne-Vir­ginie Sal­sac, direc­tor of research at the CNRS work­ing at in the Bio­me­chan­ics and Bio­engi­neer­ing Lab­o­ra­to­ry (UTC-BMBI), admits that this tech­nique is very com­plex and may not be suit­able for all sit­u­a­tions of func­tion­al mitral insufficiency. 

Hence the idea of a sec­ond device char­ac­terised by a pure­ly metal­lic struc­ture, cov­ered by a mem­brane to avoid abra­sive effects, this device being pro­tect­ed by an inter­na­tion­al patent appli­ca­tion. “After numer­ous mar­ket stud­ies, the project was judged to be suf­fi­cient­ly inno­v­a­tive and to have great indus­tri­al poten­tial. This earned it the sup­port of the SATT Lutech in Paris. All that remained was to find a part­ner spe­cialised in the med­ical field who would be pre­pared to take on the role of ‘co-mak­er’,” explains Anne-Vir­ginie Sal­sac. This was achieved with 3D Med Lab, a com­pa­ny spe­cialised in the print­ing of 3D devices. “The idea is to imple­ment 3D print­ing both with biopoly­mers for the “bal­loon” solu­tion and with “met­al” print­ing such as Niti­nol, a shape mem­o­ry alloy,” she explains.

A pio­neer in the train­ing of actors in the bio­med­ical sec­tor, UTC is still the leader in France. But oth­er actors have now invest­ed the field. 

This Bio-Med Ren­dezvous was launched by Isabelle Claude and Jean-Matthieu Prot, both lec­tur­er-cum-research sci­en­tists in bio-engi­neer­ing, and whose fourth edi­tion was held on Jan­u­ary 21, 2022. 

The rea­son for this ini­tia­tive? “One of the rea­sons is the 40 year long his­to­ry and prox­im­i­ty of UTC with the bio­med­ical field, which gives it a great rep­u­ta­tion. How­ev­er, for the last fif­teen years, new actors have invest­ed this field with a lot of dynamism and in par­tic­u­lar by cre­at­ing recur­rent events which give them an impor­tant vis­i­bil­i­ty. So we agreed among our­selves that UTC should not be sat­is­fied with its good rep­u­ta­tion but that it should bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate on its know-how and thus increase its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the French bio­med­ical net­work”, explains Isabelle Claude. 

“For us, this event aims at high­light­ing all the bio­med­ical activ­i­ties of UTC, pro­mot­ing the stu­dents’ projects, devel­op­ing the research activ­i­ties car­ried out with­in the uni­ver­si­ty but also to con­sol­i­date its links with priv­i­leged exter­nal part­ners. Thus, we always bring in either a hos­pi­tal prac­ti­tion­er or a bio­med­ical indus­tri­al­ist”, adds Jean-Matthieu Prot. What was the theme of the last bio­med­ical meet­ing? “We focused the day on sur­gi­cal robot­ics and the mod­erni­sa­tion of the oper­at­ing the­atre,” he concludes.

Senior lec­tur­er Anne Le Goff is a mem­ber of the IFSB team in the UTC-BMBI lab­o­ra­to­ry. A research project on soil biore­me­di­a­tion brings togeth­er both UTC-BMBI and UTC-TIMR Laboratories. 

The project title « Myco-flu­idics for soil bio-reme­di­a­tion», in oth­er words, the use of fun­gi for soil decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion, this cross-dis­ci­pli­nary project brings togeth­er the skills of two UTC laboratories. 

“Our objec­tive is to visu­alise, with­in a micro-flu­idic sys­tem, the way in which a fun­gus access­es a pol­lu­tant such as hydro­car­bons, for exam­ple. We know that cer­tain fil­a­men­tous fun­gi can be effec­tive. It remained to demon­strate how. By ‘sol­u­bil­is­ing’ the pol­lu­tant or by feed­ing on it,” she explains. 

A project that is the sub­ject of three the­ses. “Claire Baranger’s the­sis, based on videomi­croscopy mon­i­tor­ing of fun­gi and the pol­lu­tant incor­po­rat­ed into microflu­idic cham­bers, demon­strat­ed the coex­is­tence of the two approach­es; Jérémy Audierne’s the­sis aims to define the opti­mal con­di­tions under which the fun­gus can devel­op at the micro lev­el and whether this can be ver­i­fied in the field; and Salomé Bertone’s the­sis is devot­ed to the bio­log­i­cal aspect of the project. Search­ing for oth­er micro­bial can­di­dates, for exam­ple,” she explains. 

How are these PhD the­ses fund­ed? “The first two were sup­port­ed by the Min­istry of HE, Research & Inno­va­tion and the Region, and the 3rd by the MSTD Insti­tute,” con­cludes Anne Le Goff.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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