The main aim of this project is to assess the practical feasibility of a new method of measurement which has the potential to lead to novel instrumentation of benefit within the field of immunoassays and related applications. Presently used immunoassays have sensitivities in the nanomole per litre to picomole per litre range and involve several procedural steps. The scanned force microscopic immunoassay (SFMIA) system being developed, uses scanned probe technologies to detect antibody / antigen binding by physical imaging of the binding event. When compared to established and emerging techniques, SFMIA has three main advantages:
- SFMIA directly images the capture event and therefore does not require the antibody (or antigen) to be labelled;
- SFMIA's theoretical sensitivity is higher as, in principle, one single antibody / antigen capture event can be detected;
- SFMIA instruments are self-validating.
In its simplest form, this novel approach is likely to deliver sensitivities comparable to existing immunoassay methodologies but with less procedural steps, thereby leading to significant economies in assay time and materials consumption. Furthermore, parallel imaging SFMIA instruments based on emerging technologies are likely to lead to significant improvements in sensitivity into the femtomole per litre to attomole per litre sensitivity range. SFMIA is suitable for the development of on-line and in-situ immunosensors for clinical and industrial use.
To assess the feasibility of SFMIA, the following objectives are being addressed:
(i) Fabrication, characterisation and assessment of atomically flat, dense, compact, bio-specific sensor surfaces.
(ii) Design and construction of a laboratory prototype SFMIA instrument that integrates a bio-specific sensor surface, a flow through assay cell and a scanned force microscope.
(iii) Testing of the laboratory prototype SFMIA instrument; assessment of SFMIA sensitivity; evaluation of contact and non-contact imaging modes.
(iv) Trials of selected immunoassay systems; intercomparison of SFMIA technique and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique; review of SFMIA performance.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
CV4 7EZ Coventry