Project 1: Development of a colorimetric dosimeter for the evaluation of exposure to volatile compounds
One of the major sources of pollution is the workplaces in which the pollutant varies depending on the industry. Exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace can cause short-term as well as long-term health problems like irritation of the eyes, headache, cancer, central nervous system damage, and occupational asthma. Sensors are practical and economical way to monitor hazardous vapours in workplaces. The aim of the project is designing a simple and effective sensor badge, which can be clipped in or near a breathing zone for the duration of the work and indicate the exposure of pollutants within the limits of regulatory references based on OSHA, EU-OSHA, NIOSH and/or ACGIH.

Project 2: Wearable sensors for wound monitoring
Chronic wounds are a health burden for individuals and have a significant impact on health care systems. Wound diagnosis and assessment are mostly based on laboratory testing and do not consider the dynamic nature of the wound. Successful wound monitoring devices can decrease doctor visits as well as the cost of the lab testing. The aim of the project is designing wearable sensors to monitor chronic wounds by using its enzyme activity.

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Title: Development of capacitive biosensors for enzyme detection
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a group of Zinc containing enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of damaged tissue, but also attack healthy tissue if over expressed, as in chronic wounds or cancer tissue. Consequently, it is desirable to investigate a possible methodology for their detection and monitoring. With enzyme inhibitors as design blueprint, my work involves the synthesis of enzyme probes, their attachment to a transducer system as well as the electronic readout and interpretation with the far goal of the invention of a wearable and disposable sensor system for the application on a patient. Our work is focused on the capacitive detection for MMPs at the moment, but the methodology itself is generally applicable to enzyme detection and offers the possibility to academically recycle failed drug candidates as probes in biosensor application.
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Title: Development of an electrochemical sensor for microbial biofilm detection
The use of indwelling medical devices is a common clinical practice improving patients’ quality of life, however it is also a potential threat for the development of health care associated infections, since all types of medical devices are prone to microbial colonization mostly associated with the occurrence of bacterial and fungal biofilm. It is estimated that biofilm-associated infections (BIs) represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality with consequently increased patient management costs. Central venous catheters get easily contaminated by different microbial strains such as Staphylococcus epidermidis, S. aureus, Candida albicans, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis among others. So, proper early biofilm detection is critical to avoid further development of persistent infections.
The present project aims at the development of an impedance-based sensor capable of monitoring the adhesion and colonization of microbial cells at the early stages of biofilm formation, allowing a rapid “sensing” of biofilm biomass.
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Title: Development of a biosensor array to monitor athletes’ performances
Physiological concentrations of lactate, pyruvate, uric acid and testosterone provide information about muscle state, oxygen transport, nutritional and hydration status, therefore they are widely used as indicators to assess health and training status of athletes. To date conventional methods such as enzymatic assay, immunoassay and chromatography have been applied to measure the concentration levels of such molecules in blood. However, they are costly, time consuming, need sample pre-treatment, and require trained personnel. Sensors may represent an interesting alternative to classical analytical techniques due to their proprieties like: low cost, fast response and sensitivity. The aim of the project is the development of an electrochemical biosensor array to allow the detection of: lactate, pyruvate, uric acid and testosterone in sweat. This multiple detection device will be able to monitor athletes’ performances and physical conditions, providing a broader level of information regarding injury risk and overtraining.
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Title: Electrochemical endonuclease based biosensor for pathogenic bacteria detection
The selectivity and specificity provided by the use of biological recognition elements in the development of sensing technologies has attracted much interest in areas such as diagnostic medicine, food industry, environmental monitoring, among others. The use of electrochemical transduction techniques has a number of advantages for the development of biosensors, such as low-cost, simplicity, low detection limits, selectivity and potential for miniaturization. These features make techniques based on electrochemical transduction very attractive for the analysis in complex samples. Their coupling of this transduction system with enzymes such as the endonucleases offer the possibility of a simplified method that can be adapted for the sensitive and specific detection of genetic material from virus, bacteria and other microorganisms directly from the clinical sample. This would overcome the high cost and long processing times of traditional culturing or molecular techniques. The aim of this project is the development of an electrochemical biosensor based on the use of an endonuclease as a detection platform for bacterial DNA molecules in clinical samples.
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