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  Development of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) assisted analytical methods for detection and monitoring of protein/enzyme biomarkers

   Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Biomarkers have been used prolifically in the field of medicine to provide a rapid and easy method of monitoring many normal biochemical pathways and many pathological conditions without the need for any invasive procedures [1,2]. 

Salivary pepsin is a very important and selective biomarker for gastroesophageal reflux disease and high concentrations in the saliva of potential patients can provide a very useful and non-invasive diagnostic tool. Therefore, this study will focus on the development of new and highly selective magnetic molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for the extraction of pepsin from human saliva samples. The developed MIPs could provide a stable, cost-effective, and reusable synthetic method of extraction for pepsin [3].  

In order to extract and deal with different biomarkers, many extraction and analytical techniques have been utilized that may sometimes lack the selectivity and sensitivity required for detection of very low concentrations [4]. 

For the purpose of improving the selectivity and sensitivity and also for reducing analysis time and effort, a recent technology has been applied widely to this field, namely, molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs). MIPs are artificially designed polymers with a predetermined selectivity and sensitivity to a particular analyte (key and lock model). The polymeric matrices obtained using this technology are accurate molecular recognition elements able to mimic natural recognition entities, such as antibodies and biological receptors, so they are useful to separate and analyse complicated samples such as different biological fluids and biopsy samples [5]. 

Up till now there are no MIPs developed for detection and quantification of pepsin, the only available method for analysis of pepsin is using ELISA kits which are expensive and disposable after one-time use. However, developing MIPs for pepsin will provide a rapid, accurate, sensitive, reusable and cheap method for analysis that can be used for both biological and clinical samples, moreover it can provide us with sufficient information needed in the field of biochemistry. Different types of MIPs are intended to be developed during this work: magnetic, fluorescent and nano MIPs. All the developed MIPs will be compared on the basis of selectivity, sensitivity, binding capacity, binding time, ease of synthesis and other criteria to determine the most suitable MIPs for extraction of target enzyme. 

The project’s objectives are: 

Development of different types of molecularly imprinted polymers for pepsin biomarker. 

Optimization of the materials used for synthesis of MIPs including the monomers, cross linkers, initiator and solvent and other reaction conditions such pH, temperature, time and other possibly affecting factors. 

Characterization of the resulting MIPs which includes physical characterization, chemical characterization, and functional characterization (binding experiments). 

Application of the developed MIPs for extraction of pepsin from clinical samples and their quantification by suitable sensitive analytical method (LC-MS). 

Chemistry (6)


[1] K. Strimbu, J.A. Tavel, What are Biomarkers?, NIH Public Access. 5 (2011) 463–466. doi:10.1097/COH.0b013e32833ed177.
[2] A.M. Mostafa, S.J. Barton, S.P. Wren, J. Barker, “Review on molecularly imprinted polymers with a focus on their application to the analysis of protein biomarkers”, Trends in Analytical Chemistry, (2021), 144, 116431,
[3] A.M. Mostafa, S.J. Barton, S.P. Wren, J. Barker, Development of magnetic molecularly imprinted polymers for the extraction of salivary pepsin prior to analysis by a novel HPLC-SEC method, Polymer, (2022), 125417,
[4] S. Chen, L. Dong, M. Yan, Z. Dai, Rapid and sensitive biomarker detection using molecular imprinting polymer hydrogel and surface-enhanced Raman scattering, R. Soc. Open Sci. 5 (2018) 1–9.
[5] G. Vasapollo, R. Del Sole, L. Mergola, M.R. Lazzoi, A. Scardino, S. Scorrano, G. Mele, Molecularly Imprinted Polymers : Present and Future Prospective, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 12 (2011) 5908–5945. doi:10.3390/ijms12095908.

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