1.Nucleic acids detection with CRISPR/Cas systems
Since 2017, we have integrated CRISPR/Cas system with mini-spectrometer and microfluidics to detect RNA and DNA of viruses. Based on the collateral activity of Cas13a and Cas12a, we achieve to detect the Ebola virus RNA (Qin et al., ACS sens, 2018) and African swine fever virus RNA (Qian et al., Biosens Bioelectron, 2020) at femomolar concentration. Currently, we are developing ultrasensitive diagnostic platform of SARS-CoV-2 based on single molecule imaging and protein evolution.
2.IMAGING GENOMIC Loci with cas9
Imaging chromatin dynamics is crucial to understand genome organization and its role in transcriptional regulation. Recently, the RNA-guidable feature of CRISPR-Cas9 has been utilized for imaging of chromatin within live cells. However, these methods are mostly applicable to highly repetitive regions, whereas imaging regions with low or no repeats remains as a challenge. To address this challenge, we use single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) integrated with up to 16 MS2 binding motifs to enable robust fluorescent signal amplification. These engineered sgRNAs enable multi colour labelling of low-repeat-containing regions using a single sgRNA and of non-repetitive regions with as few as four unique sgRNAs. Using this tool, we can track the locations of native chromatin loci throughout the cell cycle and determine differential positioning of transcriptionally active and inactive regions in the nucleus.
3.Medical image processing with deep learning
Since 2019, we start the interdisciplinary research on biomedical image processing. We have built collaboration with SUSTech Hospital, Shenzhen Second People's Hospital, Shenzhen Hospital of Southern Medical University, Aosa Pharmaceutical, Renji Hospital of Shanghai Jiaotong University, and Kunming Police Dog Base. We segment adipose tissue of abdominal MRI to evaluate the therapeutic effect of ketogenic diet on type 2 diabetes and classify ECG traces for stroke prediction based on deep learning. The ongoing projects include MRI lesion segmentation for acute cerebral infarction, EEG epilepsy classification, spinal and brain tumors segmentation of MRI, tongue diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and CT classification and segmentation for COVID-19.
4.Biomedical virtual reality simulation
Our goal is to simulate complex biological and medical operations in virtual reality with the hope of enhancing students’ learning experience. We have built the models of traditional chinse medicine and acupoints map on virtual human. We are using this platform for one of course- Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine. The models are built with Unity3D and we combine various sensors to achieve human-computer interaction through VR wearable devices. This direction requires the knowledge of 3D simulation, multimedia information, sensing and measurement, software engineering, human-machine interface, and artificial intelligence.
5.Development of biomedical robot
Our brain is organized into multiple correlated functional domains. Our initial goal is dissect individual functional domains with path-design robotic arm. To extend the function of brain domain segmentation, we will develop imaging guided surgical robot. We use multi-axis mechanical arm to realize the automation in biomaterial applications. The current applications include segmentation of irregular brain nuclei, preparation of ultrathin agarose gel, and acquisition of patients’ pupil image during surgery, etc.