An Immuno-mimetic Sensor-Actuator using Novel Polymeric Vesicles as Artificial Lymphocytes

Maria Santore* and Richard P. Vinci

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University

*Department of Polymer Science & Engineering, University of Massachusetts at Amherst


In this program we will conduct the science and device development necessary to form the basis for a breakthrough sensor-actuator, mimicking the immune system to identify, amplify signal from, and respond to low levels of multiple target compounds in a wet environment. This compact (and potentially chip-based), smart system will continuously monitor a test space and provide independent real time chemical feedback to multiple stimuli. Microelectronics could be integrated into this stand-alone device for added functionality.

The proposed technology exploits novel polymeric vesicles that will act as artificial lymphocytes (i.e., a type of white blood cell). The polymeric vesicles are a new invention, made of tough membranes that will encapsulate amplification or response molecules. Different surface receptors on different vesicles will code for target compounds that, when present in the testing environment, will activate particular vesicles. The test solution flows through an amplification cascade (a rough mimic of bone marrow) to replicate only the activated vesicles. Replicated vesicles (a crude mimic of plasma cells) will return to the test space to release response compounds such as drugs or inhibitors to counteract the target compound(s) detected.


Sample Images



This project was initiated in late 2001. Findings will be posted as they become available.


This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Grant No. TBD.

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Last update: November 2001