The project aims to develop a prototype of a miniaturized system for diagnostics in the early stage of Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, or as a point-of-care instrument for patient follow-up. The system to be developed belongs to the emerging field of 'lab-on-chip' systems. It incorporates several innovative enabling technologies, including microfluidic flow control, highly sophisticated nanobiodevices with integrated detection, and novel magnetic nanoparticles. These approaches will lead to unprecedented integration and automation, and allow routine implementation of tests that can presently only be performed in a small number of specialized research laboratories. The system will use biomarkers present in blood, such as differently cleaved b amyloid peptides and post-translational modifications of the Tau protein. The miniaturization and integration of innovative detection technologies will greatly extend the sensitivity of biomarker detection, and thus improve the precocity of diagnosis. This is of paramount importance for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, since therapeutic approaches able to retard the evolution of the diseases are progressing and promising, but little hope exists for the repair of existing brain damage. The method will also allow the simultaneous study of a wide range of markers, improving the early discrimination between different neurodegenerative diseases, and thus the choice of treatment. Indeed, the NeuroTAS system will have a modular and evolutive structure, and it will be able to progressively test and integrate into its diagnostic scheme new biomarkers that may be discovered during the prototype development. The consortium is a combination of 4 academic, methodology-oriented laboratories with complementary competences in biochemistry, analytical chemistry, biophysics and microfabrication, two SMEs in the field of microfluidics, and two 'end-users' directly involved in patient diagnosis and treatment.
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