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ESR9 – Design of Multifunctional Materials to Capture Pathogens from Biological Samples

Department of Biological Engineering, University of Minho (Portugal)
Pathogen infection is a current concern in both developed and developing world with a great health, social and economic impact. Despite all the developments to diagnose and treat those infections, these still involve complex and lengthy procedures. Therefore, the design of novel solutions that can capture/enrich pathogens from clinical samples is of utmost relevance for clinical diagnostics. Indeed, detecting the interaction between entire bacteria and mixtures of ligands provides an unexplored route for target enrichment. Specific ligands immobilized onto the surface of materials used for fabrication of diagnostic devices such as arrays, microbeads, membranes and electrodes represents a promising approach. The aim of this project is to develop multifunctional materials to capture pathogens from biological samples combining grafting with plasma/UV treatments. Specific ligands (peptides/proteins, biosurfactants and aptamers) that bind to the extracellular matrix (ECM), membrane components or capsids of given pathogen(s) will be immobilized onto the surface of materials used for fabrication of diagnostic devices. These multifunctional materials must provide high and well-controlled binding capacities for ligands, intact cells and cellular extracts; prevent denaturation of the immobilized ligands, and be based on simple and efficient techniques for immobilization. The project will involve secondments to other network partners to explore proteins coupled to materials for enrichment purposes at Eluceda (UK), to use genomic context analysis and other bioinformatics tools to evaluate new targeting molecules at University of Oslo (Norway), and to evaluate the applicability of the multifunctional materials in diagnosis tools at University of Hull (UK).

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