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ESR8 – Development of Innovative Anti-Adhesive Materials in Diagnosis Tools

Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CeNTI) and University of Minho (Portugal) 
Pathogen infection represents a great problem affecting millions of people. Currently, there are still a number of challenges that limit the efficacy and specificity of diagnostic tools for pathogen detection. For instance, fouling and bacterial adhesion to diagnosis devices including microfluidic lab-on-chip devices. Hence, new diagnostic tools are eagerly sought after. The development of anti-adhesive materials with minimal fouling to inhibit adhesion based on ‘grafting-from’ approach comprises an interesting and promising solution. The aim of this project is to develop innovative anti-adhesive materials to be used within diagnostics. The post holder will study, engineer and develop new anti-adhesive surfaces by incorporating a variety of agents that can prevent pathogen aggregation and sticking-to-walls in microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices. These may include essential oils, surface active molecules, bio-surfactants and specific anti-adhesins such as those studied within the ViBrANT network. Incorporation of these agents into polymer-based materials that will be machined into diagnostic tools is expected to improve the tools’ function and enhance the device response/readout, and so be more effective at diagnosing pathogens. The project will involve secondments to other network partners to select the most appropriate anti-adhesive agents and to test anti-adhesive materials with respect to pathogen aggregation at University of Minho (Portugal); and to conduct studies related to pathogens in clinical materials at Goethe University Frankfurt (Germany). This project will involve the selection of the most promising anti-adhesive agents; the establishment of methods to modify several materials (polymer-based); the incorporation of anti-adhesive agents on those materials and their physicochemical characterization; and finally the development of anti-adhesive materials able to prevent pathogens aggregation and sticking-to-walls.

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