C2D2 Research 3a - Development and in vitro testing of a Dystrophin sensor needle

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details

Layman's description

We aim to develop a micro optical sensor device to detect changes in protein concentrations in living tissues and in real-time. In the first instance, this device will be applied to the diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) using presence/absence of dystrophin, the protein mutated in this condition. The in-situ sensor is based on a photonic crystal mounted onto the tip of an optical fibre. The photonic crystal will be coated with antibodies against dystrophin. The whole sensor will be accommodated within a needle, which will be injected into cells in vitro or in vivo. Once inside the cell or tissue, the antibody-coated crystal will be illuminated via an optical fibre. The resonance of the photonic crystal experiences a shift in wavelength in response to the protein binding on the surface and therefore a correlation between the size of the shift and protein concentration can be obtained. The single mode optical fibre used will permit both illumination and detection of the resonance shift. As proof of concept, in this project the sensor will be first tested on an immortalized mdx cell line first (mdx is a mouse model deficient for dystrophin) and then validated in primary human DMD cells.

Key findings

This project has had intermediate successes, namely, that a shift in the resonance spectra was identified in the presence of a target protein (MYH4) in muscle extracts using a microfluid channel. However, the development of the fibre needs additional support to complete a proof of principle, for which we applied for (University of York Pump Priming in 2014) but were unsuccessful. However, Matthias Fisher, a postdoc in Thomas Krauss’ lab has continued to work on the fibre and a new project student has also been engaged in this project. The project is complex and for proof of principle functionalised gratings and well as blocking layers to stop non-specific binding must be optimized. Our aim is to continue with this at a pace and generate preliminary data to apply for an MRC grant.
Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/14