The EU FP7 funded project CD-MEDICS has the goal to develop a technology platform for point-of-care diagnostics, capable of simultaneous genomic and proteomic detection, for the management monitoring and diagnosis of coeliac disease. Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100-300 genetically predisposed individuals who develop a small intestinal inflammation (enteropathy) on exposure to dietary gluten. Accurate and reliable diagnosis together with dietary monitoring is a must for the well-being of CD patients and their social environment. The chip system developed within CD-MEDICS will enable fast and accurate diagnosis by combining serology tests with HLA-typing.
A battery of reliable and validated in vitro assays is needed to test for genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of chemicals without resorting to animal experiments. Within the EU FP6 funded project COMICS the comet assay, a sensitive indicator of DNA damage, is combined with the Cell Array system, to establish and validate high capacity assays suitable for chemical testing. Up to 800 cell samples will be processed for comets on a single microscope slide. Arrays will use cells with different metabolic capabilities, and data on cytotoxicity will be obtained in parallel with DNA damage. A medium-throughput assay is also being developed.
In the EU FP7 funded project LabOnFoil the objective is to develop ultra-low-cost laboratories on chips (LOC) without compromising time response, sensitivity or simplicity of use. The user will obtain the test results using a very popular interface, a smartphone, and a set of labcards and skin patches, where the sample preparation and detection take place. The device will be developed to be able to analyze DNA, RNA, proteins and chemical compounds like cocaine. The dramatic cost reduction will be based on the use of large films instead of wafer substrate for chip production.
The EU FP6 funded project MagRSA aims at the development of a new diagnostics platform that will provide a fast, simple and accurate identification of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from clinical samples. The diagnostic protocol relies on a new and clinically validated procedure that consists of a direct one-step enrichment of MRSA present in either nasal or inguinal swabs, followed by DNA extraction of immunocaptured bacteria and their identification by multiplex quantitative sequence amplification with quantitative PCR. This protocol will be integrated within a simple “hand-off” system based on: (1) novel strategies for the integration of unit operations required for the entire nucleic acid analysis chain in a microfluidic platform, and (2) advanced microfluidic magnetic nanoparticle manipulation technology allowing efficient capture and extraction of the target bacteria and nucleic acids. The separate steps of sample preparation, signal amplification by multiplex PCR, and simultaneous detection of multiple genes will be implemented as one step in a single fluidic chip, thereby providing a simple fully automated and miniaturized system for MRSA diagnostics.
New dyes for qPCR
We are developing and evaluating new dyes for real-time PCR applications. Our dyes are designed to bind in the DNA minor groove, which makes them more selective for double-stranded DNA than, for example, SYBRGreen. The dyes are designed with different colours and can be combined with probes for quality control (Biotechniques 40, 315-319, 2006). The dyes are also excellent for high resolution melt applications.
With the EU FP6 funded project SmartHealth, we contribute to the development of the next generation of smart diagnostic systems fully integrated into healthcare systems in Europe. Driven by key applications in cancer diagnostics, SmartHealth will enable enhanced medical diagnosis leading to earlier and more precise results and thus contributing to an increased quality of life.