Research Foundation News

June 27, 2019

3D body mapping could identify, treat organs, cells damaged from medical conditions

A team from Purdue University created a tissue scaffold to help treat organs and cells damaged by cancers and other diseases.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Medical advancements can come at a physical cost. Often following diagnosis and treatment for cancer and other diseases, patients’ organs and cells can remain healed but damaged from the medical condition.

In fact, one of the fastest growing medical markets is healing and/or replacing organs and cells already treated, yet that remain damaged by cancer, cardiovascular disease and other medical issues. The global tissue engineering market is expected to reach $11.5 billion by 2022. That market involves researchers and medical scientists working to repair tissues damaged by some of the world’s most debilitating cancers and diseases.

One big challenge remains for the market: how to monitor and continuously test the performance of engineered tissues and cells to replace damaged ones. Purdue University researchers have come up with a 3D mapping technology to monitor and track the behavior of the engineered cells and tissues and improve the success rate for patients who have already faced a debilitating disease. The technology is published in the June 19 edition of ACS Nano.

body mapping A Purdue University team has come up with 3D body mapping technology to help treat organs and cells damaged by cancer and other medical issues. (Stock photo) Download image

“My hope is to help millions of people in need,” said Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering, who leads the research team. “Tissue engineering already provides new hope for hard-to-treat disorders, and our technology brings even more possibilities.”

The Purdue team created a tissue scaffold with sensor arrays in a stackable design that can monitor electrophysiological activities of cells and tissues. The technology uses the information to produce 3D maps to track activity.

“This device offers an expanded set of potential options to monitor cell and tissue function after surgical transplants in diseased or damaged bodies,” Lee said. “Our technology offers diverse options for sensing and works in moist internal body environments that are typically unfavorable for electronic instruments.”

Lee said the Purdue device is an ultra-buoyant scaffold that allows the entire structure to remain afloat on the cell culture medium, providing complete isolation of the entire electronic instrument from the wet conditions inside the body.

Lee and his team have been working with Sherry Harbin, a professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, to test the device in stem cell therapies with potential applications in the regenerative treatment of diseases.

Their works align with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the global advancements in health as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. Health, including disease monitoring and treatment, is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.           

Lee and the other researchers worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the new device.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization                       

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.     

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, 

Chi Hwan Lee,

Note to journalist: A video is available at


Sensor-Instrumented Scaffold Integrated with Microporous Sponge-Like Ultra-Buoy for Long-Term 3D Mapping of Cellular Behaviors and Functions

Hyungjun Kim, Min Ku Kim, Hanmin Jang, Bongjoong Kim, Dong Rip Kim and Chi Hwan Lee

Real-time monitoring of cellular behaviors and functions with sensor-instrumented scaffolds can provide a profound impact on fundamental studies of the underlying biophysics and disease modeling. Although quantitative measurement of predictive data for in vivo tests and physiologically relevant information in these contexts is important, the long-term reliable monitoring of cellular functions in three-dimensional (3D) environments is limited by the required set under wet cell culture conditions that are unfavorable to electronic instrument settings. Here, we introduce an ultra-buoyant 3D instrumented scaffold that can remain afloat on the surface of culture medium, and thereby provides favorable environments for the entire electronic components in the air while the cells reside and grow underneath. This setting enables high-fidelity recording of electrical cell-substrate impedance and electrophysiological signals for a long period of time (weeks). Comprehensive in vitro studies reveal the utility of this platform in an effective tool for drug screening and tissue development.

Research Foundation News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-22 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at