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Europe furthers the excellence of CIC biomaGUNE

Three of CIC biomaGUNE’s research projects have been selected in the European FET Open (Future and Emerging Technologies) call, through which the European Commission supports major, high-risk scientific research projects carried out in collaboration. The funding for these three projects amounts to nearly 1.2 million euros. The European Commission has funded 58 out of a total of 902 proposals evaluated, which constitutes a success rate of only 6.6 %.

Fundamental Research

The funding for these three projects amounts to nearly 1.2 million euros, of which € 526,791 corresponds to the e-Prot project coordinated by Aitziber López-Cortajarena; € 353,750 to the DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS Project; and € 314,001 goes to the DeDNAed project. Luis Liz-Marzán, scientific director of CIC biomaGUNE, welcomed this saying, “It is tremendously exciting to see that we continue to get economic support enabling us to tackle high-risk scientific and technological challenges, and also to see the possibility of achieving results of great importance and use.” The CIC biomaGUNE researchers pointed out that these projects have emerged out of technologies they have been developing at CIC biomaGUNE over many years. “There are shared elements in the three projects awarded, but the aims are very different and this highlights the importance of the work being done at CIC biomaGUNE and the excellent reputation the Center has acquired in this context.” The main aim of the e-Prot (Engineered conductive proteins for bioelectronics / A protein-based platform for bioelectronics) project, coordinated by Aitziber López-Cortajarena, is to develop a technology platform for bio-electronics systems based on bio-inspired, sustainable, efficient proteins as an alternative to the traditional technologies used in the electronics industry. López-Cortajarena explained that this Project “emerges out of our group’s research focusing on generating protein-based tools and biomaterials for a range of applications, including bioelectronics.” Besides coordinating, CIC biomaGUNE’s role in the project is crucial “as it will be responsible for the research during the initial tasks in the project: to design and produce the protein molecules with optimum properties of conductivity and stability so that the rest of the project can be carried out,” she added. CIC biomaGUNE will be making these biomolecules available to the various collaborators so that they can be characterized, and once the proteins with the optimum properties have been selected, to enable the companies participating in the project to incorporate them into bio-electronic devices. DNA-FAIRYLIGHTS (DNA-flash light driven data technology with multiplexed optical encoding and read-out) seeks to develop a platform for mass data storage and the rapid handling of information using biological (not artificial) DNA molecules. Gold nanoparticles of different geometries and sizes will be coupled with the DNA chains so that the DNA sequences can be identified and the data thus encoded by means optical signals that are a feature of nanoparticles. CIC biomaGUNE’s role in this project will mainly be to develop a library of metal nanoparticles and ultra-small light emitting nanoclusters as well as to assemble them on DNA templates in a controlled way. The specific optical properties of each nanomaterial will be used for the marking, reading and identification of the specific DNA sequences that encode the information, which will allow fast electro-optical reading of the encoded information. “It is possible to estimate an information storage capacity that is 100 times bigger than that available using current techniques,” said Liz-Martin. “It is easy to imagine the impact that this technology could have on the electronic components industry.” The DeDNAed (Cluster decorated recognition elements on DNA origami for enhanced Raman spectroscopic detection methods) project seeks to develop a new analytical platform based on the assembly of sensor elements by using DNA origami, which allows these sensors to be accurately located with the necessary nanometric resolution for better surface-enhanced detection via Raman spectroscopy. The anticipated benefits of the proposed technology would be translated into greater sensitivity, versatility and detection speed. In this project, CIC biomaGUNE would be responsible for designing and synthesizing the sensor elements in the system.