Biomechanical experimentation to improve the biofidelity of in silico models

Commonly used acronym: FIBEr

Scope of the method

Alternative method relates to
  • Animal health
  • Human health
Alternative method is situated in
  • Basic Research
  • Education and training
  • Translational - Applied Research
Type of alternative method
  • In vitro - Ex vivo
This method makes use of
  • Human derived cells / tissues / organs
Specify the type of cells/tissues/organs
a range of biological tissues that bear mechanical load

Description

Method keywords
  • tensile testing
  • indentation testing
  • compression testing
  • micro-CT scanning
  • multi-axial loading
Scientific area keywords
  • mechanical testing
  • biomechanics
  • parameter fitting
  • finite element modeling
Method description

FIBEr (Flanders Institute for Biomechanical Experimentation) is a laboratory that investigates the mechanical properties (stiffness, strength, microstructure) of biological tissue, in casu bones, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, etc. A quantitative characterization of the mechanical behavior of biological tissue is crucial to understand mechanics-related pathologies (aneurysm formation, osteoporosis, …) and provides us with the necessary building blocks for in silico testing of interacting mechanical devices and treatment methods. In silico testing not only reduces the need for animal testing, but also enables customized, patient-specific medical solutions. The tested material consists mainly of tissues from deceased donors, biopsies or laboratory animals (always upon ethical approval). The lab possesses several types of mechanical testing devices, each suited for testing different types of tissues and/or material properties. There is also a sample preparation room as well as a sample storage room for (cryo-)preservation. There are around 25 researchers, PhD students and master students that frequent the lab. Furthermore, projects are frequently performed for or in collaboration with biotech companies.

Lab equipment
  • - planar biaxial tensile testing device ;
  • - triaxial testing device (extensio-inflation-torsion) ;
  • - micro-CT scanner ;
  • - nano-indentor ;
  • - micro-indentor ;
  • - dynamic uniaxial tensile device ;
  • - sample preparation room ;
  • - sample storage room.
Method status
  • Still in development
  • History of use
  • Internally validated

Pros, cons & Future potential

Advantages

A quantitative characterization of the mechanical behavior of biological tissue is crucial to understand mechanics-related pathologies (aneurysm formation, osteoporosis, …) and provides us with the necessary building blocks for in silico testing of interacting mechanical devices and treatment methods. In silico testing not only reduces the need for animal testing, but also enables customized, patient-specific medical solutions.

Challenges

Given the biological nature of the tissue, it is essential to perform the characterization in circumstances that mimic the in vivo conditions as closely as possible. FIBEr pays a lot of attention to applying loading conditions that are relevant for the in vivo loading situation, and to create a physiological testing environment (in terms of temperature, medium, etc.). Nevertheless, there will always be a discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo measured material properties.

Modifications

FIBEr is continuously striving to further optimize testing protocols and to expand its portfolio to other mechanical testing methods.

Future & Other applications

The vision of FIBEr is to become the reference center in Belgium and beyond for mechanical characterization of biological tissues and biomedical products, and to achieve worldwide recognition for the development of validated testing protocols.

References, associated documents and other information

Associated documents
Links
FIBEr website

Contact person

Nele Famaey

Organisations

KU Leuven
Mechanical Engineering
Belgium
Flemish Region

KU Leuven
Institute for Orthopedic Research and Training
Belgium
Flemish Region

Partners

KU Leuven, KU Leuven, KU Leuven, KU Leuven