Bio-Mechanics and Bio-Engineering (BMBI) - UMR CNRS 7338

Studies carried out by the UTC-BMBI laboratory (bio-mechanics and bioengineering) address questions of living matter mechanics and health engineering. They aim a gaining a better understanding of how these mechanisms operate in living systems at systemic, organic and tissue scales, for the final purpose of improving human quality of life. With its unique pluridisciplinary approach in France, this research team allows for a systemic analysis to its investigations with the leitmotiv “understand first, so as to be able to do later”.


To gain a better understanding of the operational modes and mechanisms of living systems at various scales :

  • system level (cardiovascular, skeleton, muscular)
  • organ level (heart, vessels, bones, muscles, ...)
  • tissues, cells and molecules associated to these organs and systems of interest.

These knowledge provides a better understanding of pathologies and development of bio-artificial organs, biomaterials, diagnosis and evaluation tools for therapeuticor functional treatments of pathologies.

These goals are combined in order to improve human life quality from birth to senescence.

Research Teams and Themes

The research activities are grouped around 4 thematic teams, investigating at various system scales, nano, micro and macro :

  • Biomaterials/Bioreactor Cells (C2B)
  • Biological Fluid-Structure Interactions (IFSB)
  • Multi-scale Characterisation and Mechanical Modelling (C3M)
  • Neuromechanics and Electrophysiological Signals (NSE)

plus 3 emergent, transverse themes that require associate technological platforms:

  • Nanosciences Interface Biology (NanoInBio)
  • Microfluidics and Cell Microsystems (MMC)
  • Neuro-Musculo-skeletal System (SyNeMus)

The University Institute for Health Sector Engineering (IUIS)

IUIS aims at encouraging and facilitating interdisciplinary approaches (the engineering medicine interface) thanks to a federative team structure located in the hospital services and UTC and UPMC (University Pierre & Marie Curie, Paris 6) research laboratories (Medical school and the Engineering Faculty). The thematic chair e-BioMed (development of connected biomedical tools for tele-medicine) in the framework of the IUIS of the Sorbonne Universities Cluster, COMUE.

International partnerships

Europe (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Netherlands Spain, United Kingdom, and Switzerland), Lebanon, United States, Brazil, Canada and Asia (China, Japan and Singapore) ...

Hospital partnerships

Compiègne Hospital, Polyclinique Saint Côme (Compiègne), the teaching hospitals at Amiens, Robert Debré, CHU Rennes, Nantes, Mayo Clinic (United States), Royal Free Hospital (United Kingdom)

Industrial partnerships

BIC, Cornéal, Décathlon, Fresenius, Medtronic, Stryker Tefal, Abiomed, Thor, ...

Private partnerhips

The Motrice Foundation, AFM (French association for muscular dystrophy) and the FFR (Federation French Rugby Union Federation).

Regional/national specialty poles of excellence

Personal autonomy, handicapped persons, ageing, and the IFF (Institut Faire Face- for facial surgical reconstruction)

The UTC-BMBI Laboratory is a member of the Labex MS2T and the Equipex Figures. In a partnership, it contributes to development of health engineering, nano-sciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies Virtual Physiological Human (VPH), Ambient Assisted Living (AAL)... , in a network of academic partnerships in France and elsewhere.

At regional level

SIMOVI is a project that aims at analysing facial movements, i.e., facial mimicry,and to propose - after a study of relevant movements (which are main ingredients to facial expression and functionality) and bio-mechanical modelling. The project is carried out in collaboration with the UTC-Roberval Laboratory and the maxillo facial surgery units at the teaching hospital (CHU) at Amiens.

TRIM aims at multi-scale characterization of muscle tissues for TIEG1 strain mice, in a collaboration at the Mayo Clinic Foundation (Rochester, USA).

ANR Projects

The Fibriderm project is developing interpenetrating fibrin networks to buildskin substitutes for use on severely burned patients. These materials have the property of supporting cell growth and therefore offer a particularly attractive base for tissue reservation work.

CCDIM (acronym for Integrated Dynamic Cell Culture in Microsystems) is developing a parallel micro fluid lab on chip to be used in industrial characterizing screening protocols. This device required input from a network of industrial partners, some of whom could help develop it and others with the capacity to test the unit in real case studies.

A DGA Project

Nerval is a project that seeks to re-innervate skin tissue after severe burn incidents. The work should help the research scientists to discover new therapies enabling functional axon regrowth for the purpose of restoring satisfactory skin sensitivity and sensations.

European Project

BIOART is a project to develop prototype artificial kidney units enabling prolonged and continuous elimination of uremic toxins; the units use human kidney epithelial cells to eliminate uremic toxins. There is also a prototype bioreactor to ensure viability and functions of the hepatocytes.

With the subsidies awarded via the Investments for the Future incentive, the labis also developing:

  • functional re-education, bio-mimic systems, micro and nano-technologies, bio-artificial organs, for the needs of the Labex MS2T programme objectives,
  • bio-mechanical models with the aim to assist forward surgical planning and functional re-education, surgical implants, tissue engineering for facial and bone reconstruction for the Equipex Figures,
  • lipid assemblies : formulation and nano-structures in the pre-competitive European programme GENESYS, the assigned objective being to establish the base concepts and requisites for a future oil bearing plant bio-refinery in the framework of the ITE PIVERT.

ITE Pivert, in the european genesys programme

AMPHISKIN, in a partnership with the UTC-TIMR Laboratory is developing abio-refinery operating with oil-bearing plants with an objective also to achieve commercial identification of new molecules. In regard to their potential applications, it will be necessary to characterize their properties and the interactions of such molecules with various materials, in particular with bio-surfaces that will simulate contact of the molecules with human skin.

CYCLOVECT, the objective of which is to increase the efficiency of medicinal vectorization. This research will contribute to improving the attractiveness of the GENESYS programme with respect to industrial partners who have shown interest in vectorization properties (for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and in medical imaging protocols).

GLYCOBIOCIDE-BICAT: synthesis of bi-catenary glycol-derivatives and assessment of their biocide and auto-assembly potential.

The Sorbonne Universities cluster project

The goal of the MecaMusTen project is to synthesize in vitro tendon scaffolds, with strong mechanical properties to use for tendon therapy and to understand cell response to mechanical stimuli, which can then be helpful in training or rehabilitation.

MRE: Magnetic Resonance Elastography

A totally transparent human being... this is what scientists and doctors have gradually succeeded in doing. Starting with X-ray imaging, the technique for non-invasive exploration of the human body has been extended through echographies, scanners, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Sabine Bensamoun, a physicist at the Bio-Mechanical and Bio-Engineering Laboratory (BMBI) at UTC, has always nourisheda passion for the bio-mechanics of bone and muscle tissues.

"I'm currently working on data obtained by coupling acoustic vibrators to a MRI machine", she explains. " MR images provide an anatomic vision inside the organs. So-called Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE) also provides indications as to the organ's mechanicalproperties."

"When we proceed with an MRE, the MRI machinerecords the speed at which vibrations travel through the tissue. The faster the propagation, the harder the tissue. MRE therefore can be used to identify mechanical properties of organs in a non-invasive way." Sabine Bensamoun worked for 2 years in the famous Mayo Clinic where she was attracted to this technique that avoids excising biopsies, notably in the case of suspected liver cancers.

When she returned to France, she started her investigations at the Compiègne Central Hospital, with alcohol-dependent patients. If you can learn the degree of fibrosis that affects the liver, this helps the doctor incharge to adjust the treatments accordingly. "In fact, we were one of the first teams ever to publish on MRE and kidneys".

The UTC BMBI team are also interested in muscle."If you can determine the hardness of a muscle when it contracts, then you can see if the muscle is functioning correctly or not". This work started with the help of the French Association Fighting Muscular Dystrophy (where the musclewastes away). "We are building up a data base relating to muscular behaviour of healthy children compared with ill children who have the disorder. When we reach the point in time when a treatment will be possible, this data base will enable us to characterise the degree of illness for each patient and adapt the therapeutic protocol accordingly. We shall also be studying CMI (Cerebral Motor Infirmity) where the patients also have the symptom of muscular retraction".

Beyond the case of ill children, the study will naturally be extended to adults, then to senior citizens and to then the very elderly and in each category, the aim will be to build a corresponding data base; In the long term, this will become a standard method to see if ageing persons risk falling because of aweak muscular disorder not detected in the classic clinical examination.

Predictive Toxicology

There is not a week goes back without someone somewhere worrying about the possible toxicity of a given molecule. The European Union in 2006 approved and enforced a directive called REACH, the purpose of which is to control the arrival on the market place of any new (chemical) substance by assessing the risks of the chemicals produced or imported by the chemical sector and to reassure the populations at the same time. The REACH directive corresponds well to the notion of predictive toxicology.

So, how do we go about assessing the substances ? "We can test them on animals; but this is costly and raises ethical questions", explains Eric Leclerc who is a research scientist with the Biomechanical and Bio Engineering Laboratory (BMBI). We can also use Petri disk tests in vitro or use mathematical models to predict the arrival or the elimination of the molecule under test in a body, the prediction being based on a mathematical model.

To go beyond the limits inherent to the methods outlined above, Eric's team had the idea of using bioreactors in the shape of small printed circuits embedded in a polymer block. Various cells (liver, kidney,etc. are placed at the heart of the circuits. "The objective is to reproduce the physiology of tissues and their interactions." The circuit design will change as a function of the links we wish to investigate. When the bioreactor is ready, the molecule under study is perfused and its transformation is studied after passing through micro-organs such as a micro-liver, a micro-kidney.

Such bioreactors that also are known by the expression "labs on chips" have the advantage of being close to reality. "Contrary to what happens in Petri disks, the cells placed in the bioreactors are under constraint : they 'grow' in all directions", underlines Eric LECLERC. "In the process, we can create multi-organ interactions".

The bioreactors allow you to 'feed' advanced mathematical models that limit the tests on animals, nonetheless "necessary for final validation". "We can alsoact on the age of the cells placed in the bioreactor; for example, we can placefoetal cells, or those of youngsters, adults or elderly persons. We work with INERIS (acronym in French for the National Institute for analysis of the industrial Environment and associate risks) to establish mathematical models to study pesticides or endocrinal agents, or industrial pollutants contained in smoke orin solvents".


Directrice du laboratoire BMBI
Cécile Legallais
Phone : 03 44 23 46 70 | Contact by email

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