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LSCI-guided drug delivery of microswarm in the vascular system

   |  April 28, 2024

An Interview with Dr. Qinglong Wang

Not long ago, Professor Li Zhang’s team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Professor Qianqian Wang’s team from Southeast University co-published a research paper titled “Tracking and navigation of a microswarm under laser speckle contrast imaging for targeted delivery” in the journal of Science Robotics online. PhD candidate Qinglong Wang and Professor Qianqian Wang shared co-first authorship. They reported the use of laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) (RFLSI III, RWD Life Sciences) for real-time tracking and navigation of magnetic microswarms in blood vessels, showcasing the potential of high-resolution micro/nanorobotic swarms imaging and navigation guided by LSCI in complex blood environments both in vivo and in vitro. These findings provide opportunities for improved targeted intravascular drug delivery.

Tracking and navigation of a microswarm under laser speckle contrast imaging for targeted delivery

Today, we interviewed Dr. Qinglong Wang, co-first author of the aforementioned paper, to learn about the important role played by LSCI in the field of magnetic microswarms research.

Dare to pioneer without setting limits: a new breakthrough of LSCI technology

Talking about the research ideas behind this experiment, Dr. Qinglong Wang said, “Coming back to the technical principles of imaging, the first thing we need to make clear is the feasibility of LSCI for visualizing and tracking micro/nanorobotic swarms.” Laser speckle enables visual of blood flow, collecting signals from flowing blood cells before converting them into bloodstream and perfusion patterns. Analyzing from a microswarms perspective, Dr. Wang wondered if the movement of micro/nanorobotic swarms under magnetic fields can also be captured and converted into signals since these swarms are also comprised of blood-cell-like particles.

With RWD LSCI, the team qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed the dynamic convection of microswarms in the blood, conducive to improving their drug delivery capabilities. Then, validations were done in silicone tubes, vessel models, and human placenta models, all achieving effective swarms tracking and navigation in different blood environments. “RWD LSCI provides high-resolution images, and it also contains tons of information. How to interpret and use this information is critical.”

Schematic diagram of LSCI-based real-time tracking and positioning strategy of microswarms

“LSCI is an amazing tool! In addition to biomedicine, I believe more biomedical engineering researchers will be interested in it in the future. Next, we would like to continuously combine this technology with functional micro/nanorobotic swarms, probing more application scenarios.” Our interviewee could not help but shared his confidence with us.

Interest and persistence are the best mentors for cross-disciplinary exploration and learning

As a cross-disciplinary researcher, what prompt his switching of gear? What are his new roles after the switch? Advantages of doing so?… These have always been the questions driven our curiosity.

Dr. Qinglong Wang told us his story eloquently.

The co-first author majored in materials chemistry as an undergraduate. The university he was in had a strong learning atmosphere, at that stage he already laid solid foundations in basics. During his postgraduate years, the project on light-driven micro/nanomotors was the first step of Dr. Wang’s research journey, leading him into a brand new field.

Due to insufficient background knowledge and suboptimal experimental skills at the time, our interviewee regarded the research merely as something “intriguing”. Later, he gradually realized the magic of micro/nanorobots and the infinite possibilities in their applications. “So, I am very grateful to my mentor, Professor Renfeng Dong in the initial stage. Patiently, he imparted me technical knowledge, helped me improve my experimental skills, and guided me to grow quickly.”

Talking about joining Professor Li Zhang’s team, Dr. Qinglong continued to share his experience with us, “Only when your mentor’s research direction is highly consistent with your own interests can you gain the greatest support and help.”

Before joining, he learned that Professor Zhang had already achieved fruitful results in this arena. “Professor Zhang is crucial in driving applications of micro/nanorobotic swarms in biomedicine. A lot of his visionary works inspired me profoundly,” he said. “Gaining interests in this research field, I became determined to join his team and carried on my study.”

Cross-disciplinarity not only brings opportunities and challenges, but also allows Dr. Qinglong Wang to experience different roles, an experimenter, a learner, a team player, pushing him to grow in different perspectives. “First, cross-disciplinary research has offered me a broader horizon, and I have learned to look at things from different angles and make an organic combination, which has helped me understand and solve problems more comprehensively. Second, such research encourages new ideas and methodologies that are conducive to improving innovative thinking. Third, researchers from different disciplines participate in the same research program, which undoubtedly enhances my teamwork skills.” The co-first author has personally savored benefits brought by inter-disciplinary works. “Another author of this paper, Professor Qianqian Wang, has given me a lot of help with algorithms and control. Our works are in succession and the cooperation has been smooth.”

Co-first author of the paper, Dr. Qinglong Wang

According to Dr. Qinglong Wang, “interest” and “perseverance” are two vital qualities that are needed for every researcher, and he often spurs himself so. Academician Qikun Xue is the scientist he respects most, who has maintained his passion for scientific research after countless failures. With diligent and tireless explorations, he finally accomplished renowned achievements in Quantum Anomalous Hall Effect. Academician Xue’s research experience sown a seed in Dr. Wang’s heart, which gradually took root, sprouted, blossomed and bore fruits, constantly motivating him to move forward.

“My research is far from over.” Dr. Wang expressed his will to constantly push forward study in his field and to expand the application of micro/nano robots in more specific biomedicine settings. RWD also looks forward to him bringing us with more and better research results in the future.

New breakthrough in micro/nanorobots!

Free trial of RFLSI-ZW Laser Speckle Contrast Imaging System featured in the article.

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