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Bioinspired nanomaterials for point-of-care sensing of bioanalytes


Antibodies as receptors in sensors only function in narrow temperature and pH range, and come with high costs and significant batch-to-batch variation. My future vision is the replacement of antibodies in diagnostics with superior synthetic recognition elements that are produced via rational design. I approach this by developing bespoke molecularly imprinted nanoparticles (nanoMIPs) with computational modelling and subsequently integrating the engineered materials into thermo-electric sensing platforms. Molecular imprinted polymers (MIPs) are porous materials that are produced via templated polymerisation; following extraction, cavities remain behind that are complementary to the size, shape, and chemical functionality of the intended target molecule. The produced nanoMIPs are electrografted onto screen-printed electrodes (SPEs), disposable electrodes with high commercial potential, to enable electrochemical and thermal sensing. I will show how we can use these MIP-functionalised electrodes for the detection of a range of analytes such as small molecules (antibiotics), proteins (cardiac biomarker troponin-I) and viruses (norovirus, COVID-19). The produced sensor platforms are able to detect trace analytes with an analysis time of only ~15 min, and sensing is performed in complex matrices such as food stuff and serum samples. Considering the versatility of the polymer materials which can be adapted to virtually any target of interest, these low-cost point-of-care sensors hold great potential to improve food safety.


A short video of our work on antimicrobial resistance can be found here: