A major issue in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the need to identify patients in the earliest phase of the disease. The ability to detect blood-based biomarkers able to identify AD long before clinical symptoms arise will have an enormous impact as a screening tool. However, current blood test technologies are limited and there is an urgent demand for low-cost, highly-sensitive, portable, point-of-care devices capable of detecting multiple biomarkers in parallel. The aim of this PhD project is to develop and apply a novel handheld photonics-based biosensing approach for the rapid, multiplexed and ultrasensitive detection of AD biomarkers, including amyloid-beta, phosphorylated-tau, and neurofilament light chain in vitro and in plasma. The project will combine major developments in guided mode resonances and common-path interferometric detection with the goal of producing a high performance, robust, portable and reliable blood test technology offering substantial improvements over existing techniques.
The successful candidate will design, fabricate and test a novel interferometric biosensing technology which is based on the simultaneous excitation of orthogonally polarized modes and the detection of relative phase changes caused by the binding of AD biomarkers to the sensor surface. Working with a team of researchers on related projects, you will use a suite of advanced biophotonic tools and biochemical techniques to improve the dynamic range and the multiplexing capability of the sensor. You will also become familiar with optical microscopy tools, including advanced single-molecule imaging, and become part of a vibrant and highly interdisciplinary research team.
The project will involve:
1. Design and fabrication of novel interferometric biophotonic sensors to enable the real-time identification of biomarkers implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
2. The development of highly specific biochemical immobilization strategies for quantifying the relative biomarker concentration in vitro and in plasma.
3. The development of novel microfluidics to facilitate and enhance biomarker detection by enabling the handling and manipulation of microlitre volumes.
4. The development of high-throughput data analysis techniques to extract detailed data about biomarker type and abundance.
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