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Light Driven Muscle Tissues

Inducing light sensitivity in living cells allows exploiting light as a regulatory tool, enabling a number of applications in biomedical devices and soft robotics. State-of-the-art techniques that exploits optogenetics or actuators triggered by visible light have shown the huge potential of the approach and the advantages with respect to electrode stimulation, but also its limits. Low penetration of the visible light in living tissue is one of the major constrains to further development, together with a concern about gene therapy in optogenetics, or the limited biocompatibility of inorganic materials. LENTE will overcome these issues developing new NIRsensitive, carbon-based, phototransducers designed to target muscle cells in tissue. LENTE will explore two alternative routes to NIR phototransduction: nanoparticles based on a novel low band gap donor-acceptor blend (PM6-Y6) or molecular photoswitches. LENTE will test the phototransducers on muscle at three different level of complexity: 1-single cells/single myotubes, 2- in vitro muscle tissue, 3- in vivo muscle; gaining both scientific and technological knowledge. By advanced tissue engineering techniques (microcontact-printing, micromolding and 3D bioprinting), LENTE will also test the proposed phototransducer on in vitro tissue-like sample assessing their photostimulation efficiency (in terms of energy and light penetration range) and the phototransduction mechanism in tissues. Moreover, taking care of these samples geometry, shape and design, the proposed light actuation strategy will be employed for simple soft-robots components (i.e. swimmer) testing and optimizing the photoinduced macroscopic contraction in muscle tissue. The best performing actuators will be considered for application in prosthesis and/or innovative therapeutic approaches to myopathy in rehabilitation.

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