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Development of Optical Nanobiosensors for Opioids and Fentanyl-related Substances

Project Description

Opioid use is currently on the increase and its abuse poses serious risks that affects the economic state of all societies worldwide as well as health and social wellbeing. It is estimated that opioids affect 26.4 to 36 million people worldwide where 25% of users are unable to be treated with existing medical therapies. Prescription opioids include semi-synthetic and natural opioids such as morphine, codeine, and synthetic opioids such as tramadol, methadone and fentanyl. Many of the synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and derivatives, are produced and distributed illegally. With an increased availability of illegally and prescribe opioids over the last 30 years, there has been an alarming increase in their use and in deaths associated with their use. Currently there is a lack of state-of-the art technology to accurately detect and identify the sequential evolution of closely-related derivatives of opioid drugs which can be used at point of seizure. The efficient and effective identification of opioids allows investigators to optimise their ability to work to reducing the availability of these drugs as well as identifying appropriate treatment for those who have taken them. 

This is an exciting project which will seek to develop novel colorimetric and fluorimetric nanobiosensors for opioids and fentanyl-related substances focusing on biosensor design. Emphasis will be focused on the application of semiconductor quantum dots, carbon nanomaterials, plasmonic nanoparticles and magnetic nanoparticles in biosensor design and the search or development of new receptors for selective binding to the analyte of interest. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in advance nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, surface functionalization strategies, bioconjugation chemistry and biosensor fabrication. 

We are looking for a research driven, problem solving and highly motivated student with an excellent degree in chemistry, materials science or chemical biology to join our multi-disciplinary team working at the forefront of challenges in forensic science. The ability to think outside the box and come up with cutting-edge research ideas will be a significant advantage. 

To register their interest candidates are requested to submit a full CV and cover letter, these should be sent to Dr Oluwasesan Adegoke () and Professor Niamh Nic Daeid ().

Funding Notes

The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Oluwasesan Adegoke (). UK and EU students will be eligible for full-fee studentships and will be eligible for an annual stipend. Non-UK or non-EU students may be admitted to the programme but will be required to pay full overseas fees and costs if accepted.

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