Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


sense-of-care Report Summary

Project ID: 316845
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Italy

Periodic Report Summary 1 - SENSE-OF-CARE (OFET biosensors for point-of-care applications)

The sense-of-care project aims to strengthen the research on Organic Field Effect Transistor (OFET) biosensors by teaching and training Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in this emerging and growing field at academic and industrial level. In particular sense-of-care envisage a close collaboration between the academic (UNIBA) and industrial (Merck) partners in order to accelerate the advancement of the OFET biosensors technology and facilitate the access into the market of innovative and ultrasensitive OFET biosensing platforms useful for point-of-care applications.

The main research objectives of the project are: (i) design new OFET bio-sensing architectures, (ii) implementation of new materials, (iii) development of specific immunological methods for ultra-sensitive analyte detection (iv), improving the current know-how on sensing mechanism and (v) scaling-up of the most successful architectures and development of devices for industrial development.
The research and technological (S&T) activity is organized in four scientific Work Packages (WPs) focused on materials, devices and components for OFET biosensors development (WP1), OFET biosensors fabrication (WP2), implementation of OFET biosensors for a target application towards commercialization (WP3) and industrial development of the devices (WP4).

Two ESRs with a different scientific background have been hired by UNIBA and Merck during the first year of the project. UNIBA has selected the ESR1 with competence on biology and biochemistry, while Merck has enrolled the ESR2 with know-how on material science and engineering. Both the ESRs have been hired according to the schedule and have been enrolled in the PhD school of the Department of Chemistry at UNIBA. They have both started their training and research activities at UNIBA node in order to facilitate the learning of basic concepts on organic electronics and biosensors. After this period, the ESRs are going to spend part of their time at the Merck node (Innovation Lab, Heidelberg) to deepen their knowledge on organic materials, OFETs fabrication and industrial application of OFET electronic biosensors.
During the first two years of the sense-of-care both the ESRs have made important progresses in their training and scientific research activities as summarized below.

Work performed and results achieved since the beginning of the project
The scientific activity of the Sense of Care project has progressed as originally planned, focussing almost exclusively on the first two WPs described in the original program. The research activity of the ESR1 was focused on the integration of biomolecules and on the use of organic polar solvents as gate dielectric for the development of Electrolyte Gated Field Effect Transistors. While the research activity of the ESR2 was focused on the development of OFET devices that fully integrate biological recognition elements and on the evaluation of the device’s performances employing different electrolytes, configuration and immobilization strategies.
Both the Consortium teams have successfully implemented their research strategies and have begun the collaborative project. The research program has developed well thanks to constructive collaborative work between the two different groups.
As far as WP1 “Materials and components for OFET biosensors” is concerned the following milestones and deliverable have been achieved: D 1.1 Performance of Printing compatible conjugated organic materials for OFET biosensors, M 1.1 Selection of organic semiconductors and dielectrics suitable for industrial development of OFET Biosensors.
As far as WP2 “Bioelectronic sensors fabrication” is concerned the following milestones and deliverable have been achieved: D 2.1 Protocol for bio-receptor integration in the bioelectronics device, M 2.1 Selection analyte and receptor for the “sense-of-care” specific industrial target application.
All the deliverables due for the first reporting period have been delivered on time.
The progress of the work was somewhat slowed down by the difficulties due to the strong interdisciplinary nature of the project that took time for the ESRs to adapt, especially because they had to pick-up several different preliminary base knowledge on the project topic and spend time in several research training enabling them to independently work on their project in some instances slowed down by the difficulties encountered during the synthesis, as envisaged in the proposal stage.
There has also been a substantial progress on cross interaction among disciplines in particular due to the transfer of knowledge brought to the consortium by the two ESRs.
Besides progress achieved several scientific publications have been published and some others are under preparation.

The training program in “sense-of-care” is divided into three parts: 1. Scientific, 2. Professional and 3. Transfer of Knowledge. Different training activities have already been implemented at each individual node including individual lessons, seminars and courses specific for a topic. The ESRs have also attended International Schools organized outside the Consortium.
Another activity carried out across the Consortium has been the Project management.
Till now the following management activities were carried out: hiring of the two ESRs, meetings organization (1st annual and mid-term meeting), creation of the project website, reports and deliverables management, supervision of the consortium activities and fellows, supervision of the ESRs career development progresses, secondment plans definition and financial supervision.

Expected final results and their potential impact and use
The main goal of Sense-of-care project was to strengthen the industrial and academic research in this new and fast developing strategic research field by teaching and training scientists on OFET biosensors developments both in the academia and the private sectors. Innovative OFET biosensors for point-of-care application capable of sensitive, selective and reliable detection of analytes of clinical relevance are being developed. The novelty of the proposal was the development of OFET devices that fully integrate biological recognition elements, such as antibodies or other receptors to confer specificity. Specific reactions (i.e. antigen/antibody binding) were then used for analyte detection. However, not only medical diagnostics but also a wide range of sensing applications (e.g. food monitoring, detection of chemical, biological poisoning agents, etc.) will benefit from these new OFET device configurations. Further on an important focus is on the possibility to realize bio-OFET using printable compatible technologies. This, along with the possibility to fabricate such devices on a flexible substrate, will allow to possibly realize a sensing electronic device that is printed on a chip substrate that could challenge the market of strip-test introducing a cheap, label-free and disposable system capable to deliver a quantitative analysis of a target analyte.

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Life Sciences
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