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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement 764281. Copyright ©2018 by AiPBAND

Vanessa Jungbluth

ESR-2

Topic: 

Plasmonic detection of microRNA biomarkers in microfluidic devices for brain cancer non-invasive diagnosis

Supervisor: 

Prof Giuseppe Spoto, University of Catania, Italy

Vanessa was born in 1991 and grew up in Rheinbrohl, Germany. She received her Bachelor degree in Chemistry in 2015 from the HZ University of Applied Sciences (Vlissingen, Netherlands). Her Bachelor thesis on ‘Enhancing ultrafast and highly sensitive biosensors for clinical applications’, carried out within Philips Healthcare (Eindhoven, Netherlands), was awarded by the KNCV as the second best thesis in the field of Chemistry in 2015. After her graduation, Vanessa was working as a research engineer in Philips Healthcare for one more year, where she investigated and set up an alternative immunoassay format on the Philips Minicare platform with the aim to improve assay sensitivity. In 2016, she started her Master in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the FH Technikum (Vienna, Austria). During her Master’s she worked at the Austrian Institute of Technology, where she supported joint activities on H2020 projects ULTRAPLACAD and BIOGEL. Optical biosensing techniques and liquid biopsy applications are her current research interests as a PhD student within the AiPBAND project.

This ESR hosted by UoC will develop assays for the ultrasensitive detection of microRNAs related to gliomas by using microfluidic devices integrating plasmonic-based detection approaches. Target application of the assays will be the liquid biopsy, therefore assays will be specifically focussed on enhancing sensitivity and specificity. PCR-free approaches will be investigated and possible integration of digital isothermal amplification methods investigated. The direct analysis of microRNA from plasma samples for the fast and cheap detection will be pursued. The design of the device will be performed in collaboration with SCRIBA for an efficient implementation of the assay in low cost disposable devices. Performances of microfluidic devices integrating localized surface plasmon resonance-based (LSPR) biosensing will be compared with the state-of-art standard SPR imaging biosensing and digital isothermal amplification will be compared with the state-of-art droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) in collaboration with IFO. Prototypes will be fabricated with simple replica molding (REM) procedures while final devices will be fabricated by SCRIBA. Final analytical sensitivity for microRNA detection is expected in the femtomolar range.