Bioengineering for Precision Medicine
Precision medicine emerged as a concept after we began to understand that health and wellness are personal to each individual. Genetics plays a role, as does an individual’s environment and medical history. We can now track the efficacy of medicine using molecular analysis technologies that are able to detect millions of biomolecules at once.
Dr. David Juncker, Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering, is developing bioengineering technologies to analyze proteins, extracellular vesicles (small lipid bubbles made of cell membranes and filled with cellular material), single cells and bacteria that can be used to track disease progression at the molecular and cellular levels. Juncker and his research team hope that by integrating the multiple approaches developed in their lab with other technologies, it may be possible to sense changes in the body—and diagnose diseases—even before symptoms appear. Their work may also provide a better understanding of what it means to be healthy, and could lead to preventive strategies that maximize well-being.
Juncker and his group are also working with novel nanotechnologies and 3D printing to create miniature organs-on-a-chip. These miniaturized constructs will help us understand cell-to-cell interactions and organ function, and could eventually be used for drug studies based on patient-derived cells.
Juncker’s use of multiple bioengineering technologies will advance our understanding of how proteins, vesicles, cells, tissues, organs and the human body function. His research will also help guide precision medicine and optimize well-being.