Leveraging bioelectronics and synthetic biology to achieve implantable, biohybrid, and regulated cell therapies
Jonathan Rivnay a
a Northwestern University
Proceedings of Bioelectronic Interfaces: Materials, Devices and Applications (CyBioEl)
Limassol, Cyprus, 2024 October 22nd - 25th
Organizers: Eleni Stavrinidou and Achilleas Savva
Invited Speaker, Jonathan Rivnay, presentation 033
Publication date: 28th June 2024

The union of bioelectronics with engineered mammalian cells is a transformative opportunity in regulated, personalized therapeutics. This approach involves combining the strengths of synthetic biology – namely biological specificity that leverages the natural machinery of cells – with bioelectronic systems, which offer precision timing, dose control, and communication with established sensing technologies and clinical feedback. To this end, we show how implanted biohybrid devices rely on bioelectronics to initiate the production of native peptides, control therapeutic dose, and support the health and productivity of these “cell factories”. We demonstrate optogenetic induction of drug production, the potential for fluorescence feedback via photometry to probe cell factory viability, and on-site electrocatalytic oxygenation for maintenance of implanted cell health at high cell density. Current efforts focus on regulation of circadian rhythms; however, the biohybrid cell therapy concept can be broadly applied to multiple diseases where precision timing and responsive dosing is critical for effective therapy, including Type I diabetes, obesity, and cancer immunotherapies.

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