The Tissue Mechanics Laboratory focuses on the development of experimental and computational approaches and their applications in multiphasic and multiscale heterogeneous biomaterials and biological tissues. We seek to understand how the microscopic structures and constituents dictate the macroscopic mechanical characteristics in those multiscale systems. 

Our long-term goal is to understand how such microscopic-macroscopic relationships evolve in dynamic systems such as human and animal tissues, both functional (e.g. developmental biology) and dysfunctional (e.g. human cancer), and porous scaffolds for tissue engineering. With in-depth understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the concurrent evolutions of the microscopic structural constituents and their macroscopic mechanical characteristics, we hope to make translational impact in areas such as cancer diagnosis, medical devices and tissue engineering. 

''Mechanically-intelligent'' Intra-operative Tissue Assessment for Robot-Assisted Surgery (MIRAS)

PI: Yuhang Chen (HWU)
Co-I: Duncan Hand, Bill MacPherson, Bob Reuben (HWU), Hugh Paterson, Daniel Good (NHS Lothian, University of Edinburgh)
Industrial Partners: CMR Surgical and Intellipalp Dx

Funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Robot-Assisted Surgery (RAS) is the next development in minimally invasive surgery and has seen rapid development in treatment of a wide variety of conditions. It offers improved clinical accuracy by giving surgeons better control of instruments and providing features such as 3D visualisation. Such developments are particularly useful in confined spaces such as the pelvis and rectum. So far, RAS has found limited application in oncological surgery, mostly because current RAS systems rely almost entirely on visual feedback, and do not provide support for clinical decision making. This work aims to provide a novel function in RAS to enhance intra-operative clinical decision making. This technology would accelerate development of RAS in many types of visceral and solid-organ surgery where visual feedback is limited or inadequate to determine surgical margins reliably.

Press release, highlighted on radio, newspaper and scientific magazines.

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Multiscale Mechanics of Cancer

PI: Yuhang Chen (HWU)
Co-I: Daniel Good (NHS Lothian, University of Edinburgh) and Bob Reuben (HWU) 

Funded by Melville Trust for Cure and Care of Cancer

As cancer grows, phenotypic changes, often manifested in microscopic structural changes, are expressed in more and more of the tissue, eventually resulting in palpable lesions. One key question is at what scale changes in mechanical properties are expressed, the tissue 'mechano-type'. This project aims to establish quantitative and clinically-validated relationships between mechano- and pheno-types of prostate cancers in face of structural confounders such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and isolating disease-specific from patient-specific variations. 

Palpation-based Medical Device for Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

PI: Yuhang Chen
Jointly with Intellipalp Dx (Bob Reuben, Alan McNeill)

Funded by CENSIS - Scotland's Innovation Centre for sensing, imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies

This project is specifically aimed at accelerating the route to market of a screening test of early-stage prostate cancer using a novel medical device. 

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Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

PI: Yuhang Chen

Funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

A more recent pilot project was funded by EPSRC 4MD programme grant 
PI: Bob Reuben; co-I: Yuhang Chen, Duncan Hand

This project proposes to make critical steps forward in bridging the gap between the advances in in vitro tissue engineering and its ultimate goal of 'in vivo tissue regeneration' by giving it an additional dimension of vitality, i.e. design optimisation of scaffolds subject to tissue-specificity and patient-specificity. The approach taken here is to establish a design optimisation framework that considers different tissue environment, the underlying engineering challenges of scaffolding in vivo, and the fluid and solid mechanics problems involved, using state-of-the-art computational tools including structural optimisation and inverse homogenisation.