Point-of-care nucleic acid-based testing offers enormous potential for clinical diagnostics, enabling numerous applications such as accurate detection of infectious disease and prediction of individual drug response. Key factors to success include short time-to-result and ease of use. Crucially, this implies the integration of sample preparation and analysis in a single device. Over the past decade, significant progress has been made in miniaturizing nucleic acid analysis, e.g. using microchips for carrying out quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). However, advances in on-chip sample preparation have severely lagged behind. One of the main reasons for this discrepancy is the low success rate of transferring standard benchtop protocols to microchips, which typically do not allow large reagent volumes and common sample processing steps such as turbulent mixing and centrifugation. Consequently, efficient on-chip sample preparation requires the development of novel, chip-specific methodologies. Here, we will explore the potential of solid phase extraction methods that rely on novel materials and coatings to achieve optimal binding and release by modulating charge-based interactions between nucleic acids and chip substrate.
Microchip-mediated purification of nucleic acids will be quantified by qPCR. As a proof of concept, buffer solution will be spiked with DNA markers of known concentration. Successful DNA purification will enable identification and quantification of infectious agents in plasma, which will be tested in a next step. A microsystem incorporating the developed purification technology can serve as the basis for a point-of-care device for accurate and rapid detection of infectious disease. This will contribute to improved diagnostics and consequently, treatment tailored to individual patients' needs.
Type of project: Internship, Thesis
Duration: 3-9 months
Required degree: Master of Engineering Technology, Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science, Master of Bioengineering
Required background: Biomedical engineering, Bioscience Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology
Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Maarten Fauvart (Maarten.Fauvart@imec.be)
Imec allowance will be provided for students studying at a non-Belgian university.