Insulin resistance, the key feature of the metabolic syndrome, not only causes type 2 diabetes but also gives rise to its deadliest complications - the cardiovascular disease. A key factor in the development of insulin resistance is the accumulation of triglycerides in liver and muscle, a process that seems to be highly regulated. NACARDIO is a multidisciplinary project aiming to develop and commercialise a nano-biosensor technology, capable of analysing extremely small amounts of protein in small sample volumes. The technology can be used to quantify proteins involved in lipid storage to investigate if any of these proteins are potential biomarkers for the development of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. The sensor technology is based on single electron tunnelling (SET), a phenomenon well explored for low temperature applications. State of the art nanofabrication utilising metallic nanoparticles now make this technology platform available for room temperature operation. SET-technology provides unique possibilities for biosensing. Direct electrical detection can be made with sensitivity greater than for any other existing or proposed technique. To achieve the goals of NACARDIO, extensive multidisciplinary work addressing questions at the interface between nanotechnology, physics, electrical engineering, surface chemistry, biotechnology and medical sciences will be performed. Frontline experimental approaches encompassing peptide-stabilised gold nanoparticles, electron-beam lithography, nano-imprint, molecular self-assembly, engineered antibody-fragments, protein expression and fluidic simulations will be employed to fabricate the sensor and ensure biological functionality and usability. The efforts will result in a technology that not only revolutionises cardiovascular research and diagnostics, but also promotes other innovative approaches including analyses of extremely small sample (e.g. single-cell) and real-time monitoring of cell-signalling.
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