The goal of this project is to develop inexpensive, high-throughput technology to screen the thus far unexplored metabolic interactions between environmental and household chemicals and clinically relevant drugs. The main influential focus will be on human phase I metabolism (redox reactions) of common toxicants like agrochemicals and plasticizers. On the basis of their structural resemblance to pharmaceuticals and endogenous compounds, many of these chemicals are suspected to have critical effects on cytochrome P450 metabolism which is the main detoxification route of pharmaceuticals in man. However, with the current analytical instrumentation, screening of such large chemical pool would take several years, and new chemicals would be introduced faster than the old ones are screened. Thus, the main technological goal of this project is to develop novel, practically zero-cost analytical instruments that enable characterization of a compound’s metabolic profile at very high speed (<1 min/sample). This goal is achieved through miniaturization and high degree of integration of analytical instrumentation by microfabrication means, an approach often called lab(oratory)-on-a-chip. The microfabricated arrays are envisioned to incorporate all analytical key functions required (i.e. sample pretreatment, metabolic reaction, separation of the reaction products, detection) on a single chip. Thanks to the reduced dimensions, the amount of chemical waste and consumption of expensive reagents are significantly reduced. In this project, several different microfabrication techniques, from delicate cleanroom processes to extremely simple printing techniques, will be exploited to produce smart microfluidic designs and multifunctional surfaces. Towards the end of the project, more focus will be put on “printable microfluidics” which provides a truly low-cost approach for fabrication of highly customized microfluidic assays. Numerical modelling is also an integral part of the work.
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