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Lab-on-a-chip based analyzers for point-of-care monitoring of cancer therapy

Final Activity Report Summary - ONCO-CHIP (Lab-on-a-Chip Based Analyzers for Point-of-Care Monitoring of Cancer Therapy)

The overarching objective of this fellowship was to provide the beneficiary with research training and experience in the field of nanobiotechnology, i.e. microfabrication techniques, lab-on-a-chip (LOC), sensing technologies, biochips etc. To this end, the research theme initially focussed on the development of LOC technologies as a vehicle to provide the fundamental and multidisciplinary skills associated with nanobiotechnology. Achievements from this period included the design and fabrication of a LOC device using wet chemistry etch techniques in soda lime glass substrates. The final LOC device design was capable of incorporating a stationary phase separation column, such as restricted access media (RAM), for simultaneous on-chip sample clean-up and pre-concentration. Preliminary experimental findings were beneficial for understanding the scientific challenges involved in the integration of such technologies and identifying viable solutions to achieve this work objectives. In addition, during this time the fellow contributed to the supervision of a Master of engineering student on a project that produced preliminary data and identified potential techniques for low temperature soda lime glass bonding of microfluidic devices that incorporated integrated optical components, i.e. waveguides.

The fellow also collaborated, for the data interpretation and dissemination of results, with a project team involved in the development of a high-precision instrument for automated microcontact printing on microscope slides. This instrument was capable of precisely guiding a stamp until it made contact to the substrate with the absolute position of resultant micro-printed patterns being reproducible over a series of substrates with 1 µm standard deviation. The developed instrument was a compact, low cost instrument with many possibilities to facilitate automated microcontact printing operation in the domains of nanobiotechnology, surface chemistry and microfluidics.

Later, the theme of research shifted to biochip technologies. One project aimed to characterise chemical and biological functionalised gold-coated supports for use in surface plasmon resonance (SPR) imaging. This was achieved by investigation of the chip surface topography via atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and assessment of the viability of surface functionalisation via colorimetric enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA assay). ELISA results confirmed that biomolecules were present and active on the supports, indicating that chemical and biological functionalisation techniques were successful. It appeared possible to differentiate between biochips from different sources and major sources of variability measurements were identified and, in case possible, compensated for. AFM imaging results revealed that topography did not appear to be a factor in the SPR performance of these tested supports and that no correlation existed between efficacy of surface functionalisation and topographical parameters.

A second project aimed to develop a bio-barcode assay for platelet genotyping on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that was simpler and more efficient than conventional methods, thereby making it suitable for point-of-care application, e.g. emergency rooms. Bio-barcodes yielded a many fold amplification of the target molecule using technology which was based upon magnetic microparticles and gold nanoparticles. The obtained results included optimisation of protocol and proof-of-concept for its various elements.