Developing the future generation of high-performance and low-cost optical biosensors

P3SENS is an ambitious and highly innovative R&D project, funded by the ICT Directorate in the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.

As a multidisciplinary research project (including photonics, microfluidics, biochemistry and materials science, amongst others) P3SENS aims to develop high-performance, multichannel optical biosensors, which will be used for early detection of brain diseases (for instance, to prevent the occurrence of ischemic damage as a result of stroke). The project shall contribute to the development of a versatile tool for performing early screening tests in non-specialized infrastructures (e.g., Point of Care) before unambiguous identification in a specialized laboratory.

Detection of ultra-small quantities of molecules

The possibility to precisely detect and discriminate several substances in a patient's body, increasingly appears as an essential concern in order to prevent health related problems. For instance, researchers have addressed in recent years the field of proteomics (protein shape, function, and expression patterns) in hopes of developing advanced health screening tests.

The detection of proteins can be used to reveal a disease well before it has become advanced or symptoms appear. Hopefully, in a near future, proteomics will enable to accurately identify the proteins (secreted into blood, urine, saliva or other bodily fluids) that can serve as markers of specific diseases. However for a screening test to be useful, it should have high sensitivity and specificity.

Based on the the abovementioned observation, P3SENS aims to develop a disposable biochip (integrating photonic and microfluidic functionalities), optically interrogated by a compact, transportable and high performance multichannel platform. The followed approach shall increase the multiparametric detection capabilities while reducing the manufacturing cost.

The advantage of multiparametric detection

The possibility of performing multiparametric detection (either the detection of multiple analytes signing a given pathology or the simultaneous detection of multiple pathologies) and the Point of Care diagnostic approach are obvious advantages compared to currently available products. 

With the performing of multi-protein detection, P3SENS is expected to enable the detection of a specific disease in a patient, more accurately than by using single-protein tests. This is essentially due to the fact that none of the markers individually taken can differentiate an ill from a healthy individual.