CORDIS - EU research results

Ultrasensitive Quantification of Proteins based on Amplification of DNA Displaced from DNA Aptamer Duplex using Semiconductor Technology

Project description

A sensitive hormone test useful for obesity management

Obesity affects more than 10 % of individuals worldwide, but there are no specific treatments. Therefore, there is a pressing need for novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. The EU-funded DNAsensPROT project has developed a DNA aptamer-based method for the quantitative measurement of proteins within biological samples. The idea is to apply this approach for the measurement of leptin, a gut hormone which regulates appetite and weight and whose levels are proportional to body fat mass. The implementation of this method in a point-of-care setting offers an ultrasensitive test for the diagnosis of appetite control problems such as those encountered in obesity and anorexia.


The life expectancy in both EU and US fell in 2015. A third of premature deaths could be preventable and large part is due to obesity – a major risk factor for many chronic diseases including diabetes. Worldwide about 40% of adults are overweight and 13% obese. Regulation of food metabolism is becoming one of the main issues relevant to human health today. Obesity is preventable, however there are no currently available non-invasive and cost-effective obesity treatments, pointing to the need of novel diagnostic and prognostic tests. Leptin, a gut-hormone protein, has been shown to be crucial in regulating appetite and weight. Its concentration is proportional to the body fat mass, and changes at a greater rate compared to weight loss, therefore it can be used as a key measure of diet efficiency. Strong correlation between plasma and salivary leptin levels allows monitoring leptin in saliva, and provides point-of-care (PoC) personalised insight into the success of individual weight loss programs.
During our ERC Synergy Grant we have developed an aptamer based approach to perform quantitative detection of protein molecules using nucleic acid amplification to overcome the complexities of current methods to enable PoC detection. The key idea (patent pending) is to amplify and quantify DNA displaced from DNA-aptamer complexes by Leptin molecules with real-time Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification. We will use an Ion Sensitive Field Effect Transistor lab-on chip arrays. Now we need funds to further develop this technology and create a PoC platform to provide linear label-free ultrasensitive protein detection, reducing complexity, time-to-result and cost of the assay. Furthermore, the development of this novel molecular method will enable quantification of a broader number of protein targets and create one of the most sensitive PoC techniques for protein quantification, with applications far beyond appetite control (obesity, anorexia etc) management.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 149 956,00
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Westminster
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 149 956,25

Beneficiaries (1)