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IPCOS Report Summary

Project ID: 642014
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IPCOS (Imprinted Polymers as Coffee Sensors)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Food quality is a global key priority area where technological advances in terms of quality control have been limited. In the area of coffee quality there are issues related to the identification and quantification of specific targets for a variety of problems, such as control of the coffee variety, to the ability of profiling different varieties based on different concentrations of key components. The vast majority of these problems are currently addressed by techniques such as mass spectrometry, high pressure liquid chromatography, gas chromatography couples with mass spec. These are very costly approaches that require technical personnel highly specialised. The aim of the IPCOS Network is to bring innovation to the field of food quality by developing a project focused on obtaining chemical sensors using the molecular imprinting technology in the coffee industry. The project offers an international, multidisciplinary and intersectorial doctoral training programme that will allow the development of new devices based on optical and electrochemical sensors. The project will focus on three main targets: a) chlorogenic acids, b) cafestol and kaurene terpenes, c) caffeine and its metabolites, all of which have been shown to have an impact on consumers’ health. This project brings together 2 academic teams, 1 large international company, 1 SME and one non-profit research centre of excellence, supported by 4 associated teams, with a very multidisciplinary and multisectorial expertise. The IPCOS training program ranges from polymer chemistry, biosensors and analytical chemistry to production and quality control and will ensure that all the ESRs are equipped with a set of unique scientific and transferable skills that together with a strong development of innovation and entrepreneurship ethos, will enhance their career perspectives.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project is organised around three workpackages, each focused on one group of targets.
WP1: Chlorogenic acids (CLA) and derivatives

A series of derivatives of CLA, including some of the ones that are not commonly available, have been synthesized, characterised and quantified in different varieties of coffee. The procedures were optimised and large amounts of each compound were obtained. These are essential as they will be used as standards for High pressure liquid chromatography analysis on all the samples. The development of sensors is still in the initial stages, however the selection / synthesis of functional monomers for chlorogenic acids (CGAs) has been completed. These monomers have been used to obtain nanogels, and studies of the interactions of nanogels with the targets are currently being done.

WP2: Cafestol and 16-O-methyl cafestol

The extraction and purification of cafestol and 16-OMC was carried out by one of the fellows and considerable amounts of the two compounds were isolated over a period of 9 months. Synthesis of the polymerisable derivatives was completed in June 2016 . One of these derivatives has been selected for initial covalent polymerisation trials at QMUL and further compounds are currently being synthesised to optimise results.
Synthesis and characterisation of MIPS for cafestol and 16-OMC and development of sensors is underway and results are expected within the next year.

WP3: caffeine and its metabolites
The selection and synthesis of functional monomers for the binding of xanthines has very recently been achieved . The selection / synthesis of optical probes for caffeine was completed by ESR 4 in September 2015 ). Synthesis and characterisation of fluorescent MIPs for caffeine and also for xanthines are currently being carried out. Some preliminary results have been obtained, however the polymers obtained do not yet have ideal characteristics in terms of molecular recognition. More work is required before reporting the deliverables as achieved.
In addition a very significant study has been carried out on the self-association of xanthines, supported by experimental work using isothermal calorimetry studies and also computational work. This is very important because it allows the correlation between these characteristics and the solubility of the molecules, but it also ensures that there is adequate knowledge regarding the morphology of the template that is used for imprinting.

Objective 3.2 The development of an electrochemical sensor for caffeine is currently in progress (D3.5), and is expected to be achieved in time. Objective 3.2 will be completed in the second half of the program and the results will be documented in the final reporting period.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The global impact of both food safety issues and sensor technologies requires full technical knowledge and appreciation in the context of the commercial and societal aspects that could impact the future development of these fields.

This project presents an innovative approach for the development of sensing elements using molecular imprinted polymers, for food quality applications, in particular coffee. The devices developed by the network will be studied and validated in the appropriate commercial context, providing a unique training experience for the ESRs.

Although some of the results produced will be uniquely applicable to the coffee industry, the development of chemical sensors for food quality using molecular imprinting and the skills delivered by this doctoral programme will lead to a new generation of researchers equipped to enter the food quality industry. Indeed, Researchers cross trained in food chemistry technologies and advanced sensor technologies are rarely found in Europe and have high employment potential. The IPCOS training network is thus not only innovative to the coffee research but its objectives and expected outcomes have a very high translational potential to generate innovation within the European food and sensor industry, and impact the market.
The project has already obtained interesting results, in that for the first time it is clarifying, using very high power computational work, the status of aggregation of caffeine, with details regarding the formation of the dimer at concentrations that are comparable to the ones present in coffee based beverages, 4 to 8 mg per serving.
The development of a specific sensor for paraxanthine, the main metabolite of coffee, will allow to monitor specific enzyme activity, which will have impact and implications in medicine, where there is a need to monitor a specific enzyme activity to try to establish metabolic rate for important drugs.

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