Area 2

Respiratory biophysics and bioengineering

Team leader

  • Ramon Farré
    (Universitat de Barcelona)

Strategic objectives

The general objectives of the group are the study of the biophysical mechanisms determining respiratory function, and the development of models and methods for the processing of biomedical images and signals. The work of the group is based on an interdisciplinary approach, with integration between basic and clinical research. In parallel to the scientific objectives, our group pro-motes transfer to the industrial setting of the technological advances derived from the research work.

Main lines of research

1. Respiratory mechanics.

The aim of research in respiratory mechanics is to investigate the viscoelastic properties of the airways and lung tissues. At present, the work fundamentally focuses on the study of upper airway collapsibility in obstructive apnea-hypopnea during sleep and in the monitoring of noninvasive mechanical ventilation during respiratory failure. The clinical aim of this research is to obtain improved noninvasive diagnostic techniques, and to optimize the treatment methods based on ventilation assist measures.

2. Molecular and cellular nanomechanics.

The introduction of nanotechnologies allowing the manipulation of materials on the nanometric and pico-Newton scale has opened up new perspectives for the investigation of individual biomolecules and cells. Our group uses atomic force microscopy, magnetic microspheres and traction force microscopy to study cell adhesion and the mechanical properties of lung cells and leukocytes. Studies are also made of the mechanical properties of embryonic and adult stem cells during the differentiation process, and of the way in which mechanical stimuli can enhance differentiation towards the alveolar epithelial phenotype. One of our projects in this setting focuses on organ regeneration. Specifically, work is done on the bioartificial production of functional rat lungs by means of the re-cellularization of the extracellular matrix of the organ with stem cells, and recreation of the mechanical pulmonary micro-nano environment, to optimize cell differentiation.

3. Biomedical imaging analysis.

Research in imaging analysis currently focuses on the processing of photon emission tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) images, with the purpose of securing more precise quantification of gammagraphic (scintigraphic) studies. With this objective in mind, iterative algorithms are being developed for the three-dimensional reconstruction of images and for the fusion of SPECT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images.

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