- Miniaturized systems (on-chip systems covering modern electrochemical methods, electrophysiology for research of genetically engineered cells using MEA chips, microfluidic chips for in-vitro diagnosis in medicine as well as miniaturized devices for in-situ and in-vivo sensing and electronics including nanoelectrodes, MEMS and Lab on a Chip)
- Nanostructures and nanoparticles for smart nanodevices (synthesis of nanomaterials such as metal-oxide nanofilms, quantum dots, magnetic nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, graphene, modification of their surfaces for precise and targeted bonding with biomolecules, development of methods, techniques and technology for implementation of outputs into advanced nanodevices and nanoprobes for electronics, nanomedicine and diagnostics)
- Nanomedicine (diagnostic methods, in-vitro testing, in-vivo imaging, targeted drug delivery, activatable nanoprobes, molecular profile - cancer markers)
- Nanotransporters (drug transporters, synthesis of liposomes, modification of liposomes and apoferritin)
Our research is tightly connected with technology development, design and application of smart and advanced (nano)materials and (nano)devices which can be of natural and/or artificial origin. Developed advanced nanodevices and nanoprobes are applicable for electronics, sensing, and nanomedicine.
The research covers the manufacture of physical, electrochemical, and optical bio-detection systems-on-chip based on microtechnologies (such as MEMS technology) and nanotechnologies such as nanostructured surfaces covered with self-ordered arrays of nanowires, nanopillars, nanodots, and also colloidal suspensions based on nanoparticles such as superparamagnetic or quantum dots.
We are focusing not only on studying physical or chemical properties of materials but also on coupling life with material science towards development of bioanalytical methods, approaches and instruments, which can be used in health care (analysis, diagnosis, point of care and nanomedicine). By coupling these technologies and methods, we aim to create laboratories on a chip.
The interdisciplinarity is one of our key components in building and further development of the research group. As it clearly follows from the above mentioned group structure, the interdisciplinarity covers the areas of physics, chemistry, and biology, which are essential for understanding the studied topics in detail. We aim at making progress in micro and nanotechnologies to be coupled with microelectronics, nanomedicine and analytical chemistry. Therefore, our employees are experts in various fields as we have inorganic and organic chemists, analytical and physical chemists, agricultural and environmental chemists, biochemists, electrochemists, molecular and plant biologists, veterinarian and human doctors, electrical and mechanical engineers.
Content of research
The area of electrochemical analysis is a well-established group of techniques employed in our laboratory. The expertise covers a wide range of electrochemical techniques. The research in this area focusses on the utilization of different types of electrodes. Electrode modification by nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles as well as by biomolecules (peptides, proteins and nucleic acids) has been investigated. The miniaturized devices with nanoelectrodes, nanopotentiostats, and electrode array as well as microfluidic systems are the cornerstones in creating the Lab-on-chip concept. Using flow injection analysis coupled with the robotic platform, “Orpheus”, is also of interest to us. Our research focusses on
micro-hotplates for chemical sensing, BioMEMS and Optical-MEMS. The main attention is paid to investigation of nanostructured materials and to their characterization with respect to their application in designing and fabrication of MEMS sensors. Positive and negative (nano-)lithography, wet and dry etching processes as well as vapour depositions will be used in fabrication. MEMS systems for advanced fluidic system integrated together with electronic detectors (Lab-on-chip concept) will be developed. Systems will be also improved for in-vivo and in-vitro analysis of biologically interesting substances. The work will likewise include protective layers on chips for medical applications to achieve biocompatibility and to prevent negative interaction of the system (chip) with living substances/tissues of the organism.
Nanostructures and nanoparticles
Synthesis of quantum dots and magnetic nanoparticles and modification of their surface for barcoding and bioconjugation with targeting ligands
We focus on nanomaterials such as magnetic nanoparticles and/or semiconductor nanocrystals. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) are employed as an effective and versatile tool for the isolation of analytes (nucleic acids, proteins, viruses, bacteria and cells) to improve significantly their detectability and simplify the process of analyte identification. Surface modification of MNPs by specific antibodies as well as versatile bioconjugation via streptavidin-biotin technology is employed to extract analytes from complex biological samples. Quantum dots (QDs), the modern fluorescent labels, with outstanding physicochemical properties, such as broad excitation and sharp emission spectrum, high quantum yield and low photobleaching, are utilized as fluorescent tags. The wide range of materials available for QDs synthesis makes it possible to tailor properties for a specific application. Moreover, the rapid and simple preparation of QDs by microwave synthesis has been optimized. Surface modification and bioconjugation of QDs with a number of biologically active molecules and subsequent characterization by bioanalytical methods such as gel electrophoresis, capillary zone electrophoresis and/or fluorescent imaging provide a strong foundation for the investigation of benefits provided by nanomaterials.
Nanostructured surface strategy derives benefit from the very large surface areas of nanoparticles in comparison with their volumes. These advanced surfaces are advantageously used for catalytic applications, hydrophobic layers, electronics devices such as integrated electrolytic capacitors and bolometers, and nanosensing arrays. Mainly non-lithographic methods are employed in the fabrication of the surfaces bringing low-cost devices. The aspect ratio of the nanostructures can be easily tuned and nanodots, nanocolumns or nanowires can be prepared. The characteristics of such devices are set for optical, chemical, electrochemical, or mechanical properties. Template-based technology was developed and modifications of this technology are under investigation for several applications. Devices with quantum nanodots and their modifications such as biosensing arrays will be developed; also new electrolytic capacitors with film electrodes will be improved. Nanocolumns electrodes for biosensing are also investigated.
Nanomedicine for diagnostics
Nanomedicine focusses on the medical applications of nanomaterials both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Nanocarriers for drug delivery including liposome, apoferritin and nanoparticles are employed in the transport and selective release of cytostatic drugs like platinum-based ones including cisplatin, carbopaltin and oxaliplatin or doxorubicin, epirubicin and/or ellipticine. The coupling of these nanocarriers to magnetic nanoparticles via streptavidin-biotin linkage enables their targeted delivery into the cells by magnetofection. On the other hand, specifically modified quantum dots (QDs) are used for diagnostic and targeting purposes. The surfaces of the QDs are modified using antibodies and/or oligonucleotide fragments to ensure the specific interaction with targeted molecule and, therefore, effective fluorescent labelling. As an excellent tool for investigating and monitoring transport of labelled molecules through the living organism, the in-vivo imaging system is used providing sensitive fluorescence-based imaging coupled to high resolution X-ray modality. This system, connected to inhalation anesthetic unit, enables sensitive and careful handling of small animals.
Molecular biology profiling of patients with tumor diseases
Metallomics, as a new interdisciplinary science arising from the growing need for knowledge of metals in the biochemistry of organisms, is of a great interest to us. In the field of metallomics studies, we mainly focus on protein metallothionein and its participation in various types of diseases. Particularly, its connection with tumours and neurodegenerative diseases due to its function as maintainer of metal ions metabolism is the most important one. Further, we study other metal-binding proteins including matrix metalloproteinases, prions, protein p53, zinc transporters (ZIP) and prostate specific antigen. Aside from proteins, we also focus our attention on the metabolism of metal ions such as zinc, copper and iron during various diseases. Metal-based drugs are also of an interest to us.
Due to the large heterogeneity of cancer diseases, many potent low-molecular drugs harm cells other than cancer cells. These drugs can be encapsulated in macromolecular nanocarriers. We summarize information about current advances in nanomedicine, in order to choose a suitable nanocarrier and test its ability of specific delivery and provide a treatment of cell cultures. Nanocarriers are prepared for the application of the selected molecules into target organs and tissues.