Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - EDROX (The "FluoRox" concept; advanced Education and research in Bio-NanoScience)

The interfacing of bio-molecules to nanostructures, electrode surfaces and/or optical components constitutes the new discipline of bioelectronics, based on electron transfer between a protein and an electrode, which can, e.g., be monitored by amperometric techniques. The integration of bio-molecules with electronics has strong potential for applications in a variety of functional devices, ranging from biosensors to solar fuel cells. Typically, a bio-electronic device consists of an assembly of redox-active proteins on a conducting electrode such that the electron transfer process can be transformed into a measurable output signal by electronic transduction. The EDROX project has shown that direct coupling of the protein to an electrode by surface assembly offers important advantages from a technological point of view in terms of efficiency, reactivity, specificity, selectivity and sensitivity.

EDROX was successful in improving protocols for optimisation of electrical contact, biocompatibility of the interface, and control over alignment and orientation of the surface-assembled bio-molecules on electrode surfaces. Furthermore, it was shown to be advantageous to engineer a linker or an electron-relay unit between the electrode and the bio-molecules as a conduit for electrons, improving electrical contact. In addition, the EDROX project was designed to explore specifically the possibilities of fluorescence detection to monitor the activity of redox enzymes, offering unmatched detection sensitivity which is crucial for the development of successful biosensor applications based on redox enzymes.

The EDROX project was highly instrumental and successful in developing and validating this novel approach that we now call the FluRedox principle. First of all, ultimate sensitivity was achieved and demonstrated by monitoring the catalytic activity of a single redox enzyme. Secondly, pilot experiments were performed in collaboration with three SME's that established the viability of the FluRedox principle in a number of biosensor applications, demonstrating high sensitivity and versatility. Practical applications that were implemented are the testing of the efficacy of anti-biotics, the measurement of nitrogen-mineralisation of soil, and the monitoring of oxygen in industrial cooling waters. Prior to, and partially in the course of this project, patent applications were filed by one of the EDROX partners. Possibilities for a spin-off company, 'KeySense', are being explored.

The EDROX Network has provided a total of 353 person months of training in scientific research to early stage and experienced researchers (ESRs and ERs, respectively). The partners in the EDROX network were committed to ensure that the ESRs would attain a PhD at the end of the project. In fact, 8 ESRs will receive a PhD based on their work in EDROX, even when it was necessary in nearly all cases to extend their contract and to add financial resources beyond the provisions of EDROX funding.

Training of ESRs was provided in fundamental science, experimental skills, communication skills, and career development. Experimental training was offered to ESR and ER fellows in the network through participation in and initiation of research projects. Of note here is the essential role of the ERs within the network: all ESRs in the network have been trained by them in one or more technical aspects of the work. The seven network meetings have been an important vehicle for training through lectures delivered by EDROX staff and others. In addition, the network meetings also provided an opportunity for the fellows to practice their communication skills since they were required to give a presentation about their work and research achievements at each meeting. They participated in the management meetings of the Steering Committee, a valuable opportunity to engage in the planning of research activities and the evaluation of the project.

A large number of secondments have been instrumental to exchange expertise between partners, and confer additional skills to the ESR fellows. The fellows were encouraged to actively participate in conferences, workshops, summer schools, local courses, etc., thereby providing exposure of the EDROX activities, while at the same time expanding the scientific horizon of the ESR/ER fellows.

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