Chemistry

The chemistry strand of IMPACT is focused on the generation of electrochemical sensors for cancer biomarkers that can be miniaturised and integrated onto the implantable silicon based chip system.

The aim of IMPACT is to "personalise" the delivery of radiotherapy and to monitor its effect. To meet this objective IMPACT will deliver a platform consisting of a miniaturised and wireless implantable system that monitors and interprets biomarkers that are associated directly with cancer progression and cancer cell death (apoptosis) to optimise cancer treatment.

Initially we focused in the development of a system for electrochemical detection of proteases. Proteases are enzymes that catalyse the cleavage of amide bonds at specific sites in a protein or peptide. Among their many physiological roles, these enzymes are involved in many pathophysiological conditions. These include inflammation and cancer and the enzymes involved include: thrombin, human neutrophile elastase (HNE), matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), caspases, etc.

In this context, electrochemical biosensors have proved to be valuable tools - benefitting from a fast response, ease of miniaturisation (allowing the development of point-of-care devices), minimal sample preparation and high-sensitivity and selectivity. We have developed a proof-of–concept demonstrator for a peptide-based electrochemical biosensor for the detection of protease activity using self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold surfaces, using the model enzyme trypsin (González-Fernández, E., et al., Biosensors and Bioelectronics (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. bios.2015.11.088). The task is now to optimise the sensor and integrate it on silicon.

Chemistry team research illustration
Electrochemical Sensor - How it Works (Schematic) CLICK THE IMAGE FOR A LARGER VERSION