Publications by authors named "João P Conde"

23 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Accurate and rapid microfluidic ELISA to monitor Infliximab titers in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Analyst 2022 Jan 13. Epub 2022 Jan 13.

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores - Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN), Rua Alves Redol, 9, 1000-029 Lisbon, Portugal.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, affecting more than 6.8 million people worldwide. Biological therapy is used in the most severe cases of IBD where anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) antibodies are the first choice for a biological treatment. When administrated to patients, these antibodies interact with TNF-α, usually overexpressed in these diseases, neutralizing its biological activity. Because of the chronic nature of these diseases, a recurring administration of the therapeutic antibodies is required, thus making therapy monitorization essential for the correct management of these diseases. The aim of this work is the development of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) microfluidic biosensor to quantify the therapeutic antibodies in IBD patient plasma samples, where the commercial monoclonal antibody Infliximab (IFX) is used as a model target. By providing a faster and more accurate measurement of IFX, the proposed method leads to improved therapy scheduling and a reduced risk of endogenous anti-drug antibodies (ADAs) reducing the efficacy of the treatment. The time needed between sample insertion and result output for the microfluidic ELISA (mELISA) is 24 minutes, drastically shorter than the time required by the conventional ELISA (cELISA). The mELISA presented in this work has a LoD of 0.026 μg mL, while commercially available solutions provide a LoD of 0.15 μg mL. Results acquired by the mELISA are highly correlated with the results obtained from the cELISA ( = 0.998; = 0.996; < 0.0001), demonstrating the validity of the microfluidic approach for the quantification of IFX from patient plasma and its potential for use at the point-of-care (POC).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d1an01810hDOI Listing
January 2022

Pre-miRNA-149 G-quadruplex as a molecular agent to capture nucleolin.

Eur J Pharm Sci 2022 Feb 16;169:106093. Epub 2021 Dec 16.

CICS-UBI - Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal. Electronic address:

One of the most significant challenges in capturing and detecting biomarkers is the choice of an appropriate biomolecular receptor. Recently, RNA G-quadruplexes emerged as plausible receptors due to their ability to recognize with high-affinity proteins. Herein, we have unveiled and characterized the capability of the precursor microRNA 149 to form a G-quadruplex structure and determined the role that some ligands may have in its folding and binding capacity to nucleolin. The G-quadruplex formation was induced by K ions and stabilized by ligands, as demonstrated by nuclear magnetic resonance and circular dichroism experiments. Surface plasmon resonance measurements showed a binding affinity of precursor microRNA 149 towards ligands in the micromolar range (10-10 M) and a strong binding affinity to nucleolin RNA-binding domains 1 and 2 (8.38 × 10 M). Even in the presence of the ligand PhenDC3, the binding remains almost identical and in the same order of magnitude (4.46 × 10 M). The molecular interactions of the RNA G-quadruplex motif found in precursor miRNA 149 (5'-GGGAGGGAGGGACGGG- 3') and nucleolin RNA-binding domains 1 and 2 were explored by means of molecular docking and molecular dynamics studies. The results showed that RNA G-quadruplex binds to a cavity between domains 1 and 2 of the protein. Then, complex formation was also evaluated through polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The results suggest that precursor microRNA 149/ligands and precursor microRNA 149/nucleolin RNA-binding domains 1 and 2 form stable molecular complexes. The in vitro co-localization of precursor microRNA 149 and nucleolin in PC3 cells was demonstrated using confocal microscopy. Finally, a rapid and straightforward microfluidic strategy was employed to check the ability of precursor microRNA 149 to capture nucleolin RNA-binding domains 1 and 2. The results revealed that precursor microRNA 149 can capture nucleolin RNA-binding domains 1 and 2 labeled with Fluorescein 5-isothiocyanate in a concentration-dependent manner, but PhenDC3 complexation seems to decrease the ability of precursor microRNA 149 to capture the protein. Overall, our results proved the formation of the G-quadruplex structure in the precursor microRNA 149 and the ability to recognize and detect nucleolin. This proof-of-concept study could open up a new framework for developing new strategies to design improved molecular receptors for capture and detection of nucleolin in complex biological samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejps.2021.106093DOI Listing
February 2022

Microchromatography integrated with impedance sensor for bioprocess optimization: Experimental and numerical study of column efficiency for evaluation of scalability.

J Chromatogr A 2022 Jan 8;1661:462678. Epub 2021 Nov 8.

IBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

In the last decade, there has been a growing interest in developing microfluidic systems as new scale-down models for accelerated and cost-effective biopharmaceutical process development. Nonetheless, the research in this field is still in its infancy and requires further investigation to simplify and accelerate the microfabrication process. In addition, integration of different label-free sensors into the microcolumn systems has utmost importance to minimize result discrepancies during the scale-up process. In this study, we developed a simple, low-cost integrated microcolumn (26 µl). Micromilling technology was employed to define the geometry and shape of microfluidic structures using poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA). The design of PMMA microstructure was transferred to polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and interdigitated planar microelectrodes (IDE) were integrated into the system. To evaluate the scalability of the developed microcolumn column, column performance was assessed and compared with a conventional 1-ml prepacked column. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) studies were performed for both columns to understand the differences between theoretical and experimental results regarding retention time and peak broadening. Despite obtaining an acceptable asymmetric factor for the microcolumn (1.03 ± 0.02), the reduced plate height value was still higher than the recommended range with the value of 4.14 ± 0.18. Nevertheless, the consistency and significant improvement of microcolumn efficiency compared to previous studies provide the possibility of developing robust simulation tools for transferring acquired experimental data for larger-scale units.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2021.462678DOI Listing
January 2022

Monitoring Intracellular Calcium in Response to GPCR Activation: Comparison Between Microtiter Plates and Microfluidic Assays.

Methods Mol Biol 2021 ;2268:289-304

INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias, Lisbon, Portugal.

Microfluidic strategies combined with transduction and electronic integration have the promise of enabling miniaturized, combinatorial assays at higher speeds and lower costs, while at the same time mimicking the local chemical concentrations and force fields of the cellular in vivo environment. In this chapter we introduce a microfluidic structure with hydrodynamic cell traps and a culture volume in the nanoliter range (50 nL), to quantitatively evaluate the transient calcium response of the endogenous Muscarinic type 1 receptor (M1) in HEK 293 T cells. The microfluidic fabrication protocol is described as well as a methodology to monitor the cell response in real time, after stimulation with M1 agonists (e.g., carbachol) and antagonists (e.g., Pirenzepine).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-0716-1221-7_19DOI Listing
July 2021

A Fast Alternative to Soft Lithography for the Fabrication of Organ-on-a-Chip Elastomeric-Based Devices and Microactuators.

Adv Sci (Weinh) 2021 04 8;8(8):2003273. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

i3S - Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde Universidade do Porto Rua Alfredo Allen, 208 Porto 4200-135 Portugal.

Organ-on-a-chip technology promises to revolutionize how pre-clinical human trials are conducted. Engineering an in vitro environment that mimics the functionality and architecture of human physiology is essential toward building better platforms for drug development and personalized medicine. However, the complex nature of these devices requires specialized, time consuming, and expensive fabrication methodologies. Alternatives that reduce design-to-prototype time are needed, in order to fulfill the potential of these devices. Here, a streamlined approach is proposed for the fabrication of organ-on-a-chip devices with incorporated microactuators, by using an adaptation of xurography. This method can generate multilayered, membrane-integrated biochips in a matter of hours, using low-cost benchtop equipment. These devices are capable of withstanding considerable pressure without delamination. Furthermore, this method is suitable for the integration of flexible membranes, required for organ-on-a-chip applications, such as mechanical actuation or the establishment of biological barrier function. The devices are compatible with cell culture applications and present no cytotoxic effects or observable alterations on cellular homeostasis. This fabrication method can rapidly generate organ-on-a-chip prototypes for a fraction of cost and time, in comparison to conventional soft lithography, constituting an interesting alternative to the current fabrication methods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/advs.202003273DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8061392PMC
April 2021

Aptamer-based approaches to detect nucleolin in prostate cancer.

Talanta 2021 May 31;226:122037. Epub 2020 Dec 31.

CICS-UBI - Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, Covilhã, Portugal. Electronic address:

We have investigated the expression of nucleolin (NCL) in liquid biopsies of prostate cancer (PCa) patients and healthy controls to determine its correlation with tumor prognosis. To detect NCL we used a modified AS1411 aptamer designated by AS1411-N5. In presence of NCL, AS1411-N5 increases the fluorescence by assuming a G-quadruplex (G4) structure, while in the absence of NCL the fluorescence signal remains quenched. The structural characterization of AS1411-N5 was performed by biophysical studies, which demonstrated the formation of G4 parallel conformation in the presence of 100 mM K and the ability to recognize NCL with high affinity (K = 138.1 ± 5.5 nM). Furthermore, the clinical relevance of NCL in PCa liquid biopsies was assessed by using an NCL-based ELISA assay. The protein was measured in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) cell lysate of 158 individuals, including PCa patients and healthy individuals. The results depicted a remarkable increase of NCL levels in the PBMC's lysate of PCa patients (mean of 626.1 pg/mL whole blood) when compared to healthy individuals (mean of 198.5 pg/mL whole blood). The ELISA results also provided evidence for the usefulness of determining NCL levels in advanced PCa stages. Furthermore, a microfluidic assay showed the ability of AS1411-N5 in recognizing NCL in spiked human plasma samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2020.122037DOI Listing
May 2021

Microfluidic platform for rapid screening of bacterial cell lysis.

J Chromatogr A 2020 Jan 10;1610:460539. Epub 2019 Sep 10.

IBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

Over the past decade significant progress has been found in the upstream production processes, shifting the main bottlenecks in current manufacturing platforms for biopharmaceuticals towards the downstream processing. Challenges in the purification process include reducing the production costs, developing robust and efficient purification processes as well as integrating both upstream and downstream processes. Microfluidic technologies have recently emerged as effective tools for expediting bioprocess design in a cost-effective manner, since a large number of variables can be evaluated in a small time frame, using reduced volumes and manpower. Their modularity also allows to integrate different unit operations into a single chip, and consequently to evaluate the effect of each stage on the overall process efficiency. This paper describes the development of a diffusion-based microfluidic device for the rapid screening of continuous chemical lysis conditions. The release of a recombinant green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed in Escherichia coli (E. coli) was used as model system due to the simple evaluation of cell growth and product concentration by fluorescence. The concept can be further applied to any biopharmaceutical production platform. The microfluidic device was successfully used to test the lytic effect of both enzymatic and chemical lysis solutions, with lysis efficiency of about 60% and close to 100%, respectively, achieved. The microfluidic technology also demonstrated the ability to detect potential process issues, such as the increased viscosity related with the rapid release of genomic material, that can arise for specific lysis conditions and hinder the performance of a bioprocess. Finally, given the continuous operation of the lysis chip, the microfluidic technology has the potential to be integrated with other microfluidic modules in order to model a fully continuous biomanufacturing process on a chip.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2019.460539DOI Listing
January 2020

Optimizing the Performance of Chromatographic Separations Using Microfluidics: Multiplexed and Quantitative Screening of Ligands and Target Molecules.

Biotechnol J 2019 Oct 23;14(10):e1800593. Epub 2019 Jul 23.

IBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001, Lisbon, Portugal.

The optimization of chromatography ligands for the purification of biopharmaceuticals is highly demanded to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical industry. In the case of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), synthetic ligands comprising multiple types of interactions (multimodal) provide process and economic advantages compared to protein-based affinity ligands. However, optimizing the operation window of these ligands requires the development of effective high-throughput screening platforms. Here, a novel microfluidics-based methodology to perform rapid and multiplexed screening of various multimodal ligands relative to their ability to bind different target molecules is demonstrated. The microfluidic structure comprises three individual chambers (≈8 nL each) packed with different types of chromatography beads in series with the feed flow. An artificial mixture composed of immunoglobulin G (IgG) and bovine serum albumin, labeled with different thiol-reactive neutral fluorescent dyes, is used as a model to quantitatively optimize the performance (yield and purity) of the separation. This approach can potentially be used as a predictive analytical tool in the context of mAb purification, allowing low consumption of molecules and providing results in <3 min. Furthermore, this versatile approach can potentially be extended not only with respect to the number of different resins and target molecules, but also for parallel analysis of multiple conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/biot.201800593DOI Listing
October 2019

Nanotechnology is an important strategy for combinational innovative chemo-immunotherapies against colorectal cancer.

J Control Release 2019 08 19;307:108-138. Epub 2019 Jun 19.

Research Institute for Medicines (iMed.ULisboa), Faculty of Pharmacy, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Prof. Gama Pinto, 1649-003 Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is among the five most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide, constituting 6% of all cancers and the third leading cause of cancer death. CRC is the third and second most frequent cancer in men and women worldwide, accounting for 14% and 13% of all cancer incidence rates, respectively. CRC incidence is decreasing in older populations, but it has been significantly rising worldwide in adolescents and adults younger than 50 years old. Significant advances in the screening methods and surgical procedures have been underlying the reduction of the CRC incidence rate in older populations. However, there is an urgent demand for the development of alternative effective therapeutic options to overcome advanced metastatic CRC, while preventing disease recurrence. This review addresses the immune and CRC biology, summarizing the recent advances on the immune and/or therapeutic regimens currently in clinical use. We will focus on the emerging role of nanotechnology in the development of combinational therapies targeting and thereby regulating the function of the major players in CRC progression and immune evasion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.06.017DOI Listing
August 2019

Silica bead-based microfluidic device with integrated photodiodes for the rapid capture and detection of rolling circle amplification products in the femtomolar range.

Biosens Bioelectron 2019 Mar 18;128:68-75. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, SE-171 65 Solna, Sweden. Electronic address:

The rapid and sensitive detection of specific nucleic acid sequences at the point-of-care (PoC) is becoming increasingly in demand for a variety of emergent biomedical applications ranging from infectious disease diagnostics to the screening of antimicrobial resistance. To meet such demand, considerable efforts have been invested towards the development of portable and integrated analytical devices combining microfluidics with miniaturized signal transducers. Here, we demonstrate the combination of rolling circle amplification (RCA)-based nucleic acid amplification with an on-chip size-selective trapping of amplicons on silica beads (~8 nL capture chamber) coupled with a thin-film photodiode (200 × 200 µm area) fluorescence readout. Parameters such as the flow rate of the amplicon solution and trapping time were optimized as well as the photodiode measurement settings, providing minimum detection limits below 0.5 fM of targeted nucleic acids and requiring only 5 μL of pre-amplified sample. Finally, we evaluated the analytical performance of our approach by benchmarking it against a commercial instrument for RCA product (RCP) quantification and further investigated the effect of the number of RCA cycles and elongation times (ranging from 10 to 120 min). Moreover, we provide a demonstration of the application for diagnostic purposes by detecting RNA from influenza and Ebola viruses, thus highlighting its suitability for integrated PoC systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2018.12.004DOI Listing
March 2019

Multiplexed microfluidic fluorescence immunoassay with photodiode array signal acquisition for sub-minute and point-of-need detection of mycotoxins.

Lab Chip 2018 05;18(11):1569-1580

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores - Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN) and IN - Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Lisbon, Portugal.

Portable, rapid, cost effective and simple analytical tools are in increasing demand to facilitate the routine monitoring of target chemical/biological compounds at the point-of-need. Such devices are highly relevant within the context of food safety, particularly concerning the screening of highly toxic and strictly regulated mycotoxins. To achieve ultrarapid detection of mycotoxins, namely aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A and deoxynivalenol, at the point-of-need, a novel multiplexed bead-based microfluidic competitive immunosensor, coupled with an array of a-Si:H thin-film photodiodes for integrated fluorescence signal acquisition, is reported. Simultaneously measuring the initial binding rate for each analyte of the sample under analysis against an internal reference, this device provided limits of detection below 1 ng mL-1 for all mycotoxins in a single-step assay and within 1 minute after mixing the sample under analysis with a fluorescent conjugate. The compatibility of the device with the analysis of mycotoxins spiked in corn samples was further demonstrated after performing a sample preparation procedure based on aqueous two-phase extraction. The short times of analysis and sensitivities in the low ng mL-1 range make these devices potentially competitive with the lateral flow devices that are currently the standard for this application. Furthermore, this device architecture and concept is amenable of being expanded to other analytes in food safety, biomedical and other applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c8lc00259bDOI Listing
May 2018

Advances, challenges and opportunities for point-of-need screening of mycotoxins in foods and feeds.

Analyst 2018 Feb;143(5):1015-1035

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores - Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN) and IN - Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Portugal.

The assurance of food and feed safety, including the identification and effective monitoring of multiple biological and chemical hazards, is a major societal challenge, given the increasing pace at which food commodities are demanded, produced and traded across the globe. Within this context, mycotoxins are globally widespread secondary fungal metabolites, which can contaminate crops either in the field or during storage and have serious human and animal health impacts such as carcinogenic, teratogenic and hepatotoxic effects. Therefore, their presence in a wide range of foods and feeds is strictly regulated, particularly in the European Union. In order to perform effective and routine monitoring of mycotoxin levels in the field prior to further processing, during transport or during processing, rapid, simple, portable and sensitive means of screening of regulated mycotoxins are in high demand. This review focuses on (1) discussing the relevance of mycotoxins and the standard approaches for their sampling and monitoring; and (2) compiling and discussing recent advances in miniaturized analytical tools for mycotoxin detection. This provides insights into current research efforts and opportunities to develop a truly integrated and fit-for-purpose analytical tool, suitable for use at critical points of the food, feed and raw material processing and distribution chains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c7an01762fDOI Listing
February 2018

A multiplexed microfluidic toolbox for the rapid optimization of affinity-driven partition in aqueous two phase systems.

J Chromatogr A 2017 Sep 5;1515:252-259. Epub 2017 Aug 5.

Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal; IBB-Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

Antibodies and other protein products such as interferons and cytokines are biopharmaceuticals of critical importance which, in order to be safely administered, have to be thoroughly purified in a cost effective and efficient manner. The use of aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) is a viable option for this purification, but these systems are difficult to model and optimization procedures require lengthy and expensive screening processes. Here, a methodology for the rapid screening of antibody extraction conditions using a microfluidic channel-based toolbox is presented. A first microfluidic structure allows a simple negative-pressure driven rapid screening of up to 8 extraction conditions simultaneously, using less than 20μL of each phase-forming solution per experiment, while a second microfluidic structure allows the integration of multi-step extraction protocols based on the results obtained with the first device. In this paper, this microfluidic toolbox was used to demonstrate the potential of LYTAG fusion proteins used as affinity tags to optimize the partitioning of antibodies in ATPE processes, where a maximum partition coefficient (K) of 9.2 in a PEG 3350/phosphate system was obtained for the antibody extraction in the presence of the LYTAG-Z dual ligand. This represents an increase of approx. 3.7 fold when compared with the same conditions without the affinity molecule (K=2.5). Overall, this miniaturized and versatile approach allowed the rapid optimization of molecule partition followed by a proof-of-concept demonstration of an integrated back extraction procedure, both of which are critical procedures towards obtaining high purity biopharmaceuticals using ATPE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2017.07.094DOI Listing
September 2017

Multiplexed capillary microfluidic immunoassay with smartphone data acquisition for parallel mycotoxin detection.

Biosens Bioelectron 2018 Jan 15;99:40-46. Epub 2017 Jul 15.

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores - Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN) and IN - Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

The field of microfluidics holds great promise for the development of simple and portable lab-on-a-chip systems. The use of capillarity as a means of fluidic manipulation in lab-on-a-chip systems can potentially reduce the complexity of the instrumentation and allow the development of user-friendly devices for point-of-need analyses. In this work, a PDMS microchannel-based, colorimetric, autonomous capillary chip provides a multiplexed and semi-quantitative immunodetection assay. Results are acquired using a standard smartphone camera and analyzed with a simple gray scale quantification procedure. The performance of this device was tested for the simultaneous detection of the mycotoxins ochratoxin A (OTA), aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and deoxynivalenol (DON) which are strictly regulated food contaminants with severe detrimental effects on human and animal health. The multiplexed assay was performed approximately within 10min and the achieved sensitivities of<40, 0.1-0.2 and<10ng/mL for OTA, AFB1 and DON, respectively, fall within the majority of currently enforced regulatory and/or recommended limits. Furthermore, to assess the potential of the device to analyze real samples, the immunoassay was successfully validated for these 3 mycotoxins in a corn-based feed sample after a simple sample preparation procedure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2017.07.032DOI Listing
January 2018

A simple method for point-of-need extraction, concentration and rapid multi-mycotoxin immunodetection in feeds using aqueous two-phase systems.

J Chromatogr A 2017 Aug 5;1511:15-24. Epub 2017 Jul 5.

IBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. Electronic address:

The rapid detection of mycotoxins in feed samples is becoming an increasingly relevant challenge for the food production sector, in order to effectively enforce current regulations and assure food and feed safety. To achieve rapid mycotoxin detection, several biosensing strategies have been published, many reaching assay times of the order of a few minutes. However, the vast majority of these rely on sample preparation based on volatile organic solvents, often comprising complex multi-step procedures and devoid of clean-up and/or concentration effects. Here, a novel sample preparation methodology based on a green, non-toxic and inexpensive polyethylene glycol-sodium citrate aqueous two-phase system is reported, providing single-step extraction and concentration of three target mycotoxins within 20min: aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), ochratoxin A (OTA) and deoxynivalenol (DON). With point-of-need applications in mind, the extraction procedure was optimized and validated using a rapid multi-toxin microfluidic competitive immunoassay. The assay was successfully tested with spiked complex solid matrices including corn, soy, chickpea and sunflower-based feeds and limits of detection of 4.6ngg±15.8%, 24.1ngg±8.1% and 129.7ngg±53.1% (±CV) were obtained in corn for AFB1, OTA and DON, respectively. These sensitivities are fit-for-purpose at the required regulatory and recommended limits for animal feed, providing an effective and safe semi-quantitative mycotoxin analysis that can be performed in the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2017.07.004DOI Listing
August 2017

A Novel Microfluidic Cell Co-culture Platform for the Study of the Molecular Mechanisms of Parkinson's Disease and Other Synucleinopathies.

Front Neurosci 2016 15;10:511. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, CEDOC - Chronic Diseases Research Center, Universidade Nova de LisboaLisbon, Portugal; Department of Neurodegeneration and Restorative Research, Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain, University Medical Center GöttingenGöttingen, Germany.

Although, the precise molecular mechanisms underlying Parkinson's disease (PD) are still elusive, it is now known that spreading of alpha-synuclein (aSyn) pathology and neuroinflammation are important players in disease progression. Here, we developed a novel microfluidic cell-culture platform for studying the communication between two different cell populations, a process of critical importance not only in PD but also in many biological processes. The integration of micro-valves in the device enabled us to control fluid routing, cellular microenvironments, and to simulate paracrine signaling. As proof of concept, two sets of experiments were designed to show how this platform can be used to investigate specific molecular mechanisms associated with PD. In one experiment, naïve H4 neuroglioma cells were co-cultured with cells expressing aSyn tagged with GFP (aSyn-GFP), to study the release and spreading of the protein. In our experimental set up, we induced the release of the contents of aSyn-GFP producing cells to the medium and monitored the protein's diffusion. In another experiment, H4 cells were co-cultured with N9 microglial cells to assess the interplay between two cell lines in response to environmental stimuli. Here, we observed an increase in the levels of reactive oxygen species in H4 cells cultured in the presence of activated N9 cells, confirming the cross talk between different cell populations. In summary, the platform developed in this study affords novel opportunities for the study of the molecular mechanisms involved in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2016.00511DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108800PMC
November 2016

Miniaturization of aqueous two-phase extraction for biological applications: From micro-tubes to microchannels.

Biotechnol J 2016 Dec 14;11(12):1498-1512. Epub 2016 Sep 14.

IBB - Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.

Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) is a biocompatible liquid-liquid (L-L) separation technique that has been under research for several decades towards the purification of biomolecules, ranging from small metabolites to large animal cells. More recently, with the emergence of rapid-prototyping techniques for fabrication of microfluidic structures with intricate designs, ATPE gained an expanded range of applications utilizing physical phenomena occurring exclusively at the microscale. Today, research is being carried simultaneously in two different volume ranges, mL-scale (microtubes) and nL-scale (microchannels). The objective of this review is to give insight into the state of the art at both microtube and microchannel-scale and to analyze whether miniaturization is currently a competing or divergent technology in a field of applications including bioseparation, bioanalytics, enhanced fermentation processes, catalysis, high-throughput screening and physical/chemical compartmentalization. From our perspective, both approaches are worthy of investigation and, depending on the application, it is likely that either (i) one of the approaches will eventually become obsolete in particular research areas such as purification at the preparative scale or high-throughput screening applications; or (ii) both approaches will function as complementing techniques within the bioanalytics field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/biot.201600356DOI Listing
December 2016

High-Throughput Nanoliter-Scale Analysis and Optimization of Multimodal Chromatography for the Capture of Monoclonal Antibodies.

Anal Chem 2016 08 28;88(16):7959-67. Epub 2016 Jul 28.

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores-Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias, and Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 1000-029 Lisbon, Portugal.

Multimodal ligands are synthetic molecules comprising multiple types of interactions that have been increasingly used for the capture of different biopharmaceutical compounds within complex biological mixtures. For monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in particular, these ligands have shown the possibility of direct capture from cell culture supernatants in native conditions, as well as enhanced selectivity and affinity compared to traditional single-mode ligands. However, performing the capture of a target mAb using multimodal chromatography comes with the need for extensive optimization of the operating conditions, due to the multitude of interactions that can be promoted in parallel. In this work, a high-throughput microfluidic platform was developed for the optimization of chromatographic conditions regarding the capture of an anti-interleukin 8 mAb, using a multimodal ligand (2-benzamido-4-mercaptobutanoic acid), under a wide range of buffer pH and conductivities. The interaction of the ligand with the fluorescently labeled target mAb was also analyzed with respect to the individual contribution of the hydrophobic (phenyl) and electrostatic (carboxyl) moieties using fluorescence microscopy. The results were further validated at the macroscale using prepacked columns in standard chromatography assays, and recovery yield values of 94.6% ± 5.2% and 97.7% ± 1.5% were obtained under optimal conditions for the miniaturized and conventional approaches, respectively. In summary, this study highlights that a microfluidic-based approach is a powerful analytical tool to expedite the optimization process while using reduced reagent volumes (<50 μL), less resin (∼70 nL), and delivering results in less than 1 min per assay condition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.6b00781DOI Listing
August 2016

DNA aptamer-based sandwich microfluidic assays for dual quantification and multi-glycan profiling of cancer biomarkers.

Biosens Bioelectron 2016 May 19;79:313-9. Epub 2015 Dec 19.

Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Two novel sandwich-based immunoassays for prostate cancer (PCa) diagnosis are reported, in which the primary antibody for capture is replaced by a DNA aptamer. The assays, which can be performed in parallel, were developed in a microfluidic device and tested for the detection of free Prostate Specific Antigen (fPSA). A secondary antibody (Aptamer-Antibody Assay) or a lectin (Aptamer-Lectin Assay) is used to quantify, by chemiluminescence, both the amount of fPSA and its glycosylation levels. The use of aptamers enables a more reliable, selective and controlled sensing of the analyte. The dual approach provides sensitive detection of fPSA along with selective fPSA glycoprofiling, which is of significant importance in the diagnosis and prognosis of PCa, as tumor progression is associated with changes in fPSA glycosylation. With these approaches, we can potentially detect 0.5 ng/mL of fPSA and 3 ng/mL of glycosylated fPSA using Sambucus nigra (SNA) lectin, both within the relevant clinical range. The approach can be applied to a wide range of biomarkers, thus providing a good alternative to standard antibody-based immunoassays with significant impact in medical diagnosis and prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2015.12.058DOI Listing
May 2016

Modulation of alpha-synuclein toxicity in yeast using a novel microfluidic-based gradient generator.

Lab Chip 2014 Oct;14(20):3949-57

INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias and IN - Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, R. Alves Redol, 9, 1000-029, Lisbon, Portugal.

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a common age-associated neurodegenerative disorder. The protein α-synuclein (aSyn) is a key factor in PD both due to its association with familial and sporadic cases and because it is the main component of the pathological protein aggregates known as Lewy bodies. However, the precise cellular effects of aSyn aggregation are still elusive. Here, we developed an elastomeric microfluidic device equipped with a chemical gradient generator and 9 chambers containing cell traps to study aSyn production and aggregation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This study involved capturing single cells, exposing them to specific chemical environments and imaging the expression of aSyn by means of a GFP fusion (aSyn-GFP). Using a galactose (GAL) gradient we modulated aSyn expression and, surprisingly, by tracking the behavior of single cells, we found that the response of individual cells in a population to a given stimulus can differ widely. To study the combined effect of environmental factors and aSyn expression levels, we exposed cells to a gradient of FeCl3. We found a dramatic increase in the percentage of cells displaying aSyn inclusions from 27% to 96%. Finally, we studied the effects of ascorbic acid, an antioxidant, on aSyn aggregation and found a significant reduction in the percentage of cells bearing aSyn inclusions from 87% to 37%. In summary, the device developed here offers a powerful way of studying aSyn biology with single-cell resolution and high throughput using genetically modified yeast cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c4lc00756eDOI Listing
October 2014

An amorphous silicon photodiode microfluidic chip to detect nanomolar quantities of HIV-1 virion infectivity factor.

Analyst 2014 Aug;139(15):3709-13

IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Molecular and Structural Biomedicine (CBME), University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8000-139 Faro, Portugal.

A hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) photosensor was explored for the quantitative detection of a HIV-1 virion infectivity factor (Vif) at a detection limit in the single nanomolar range. The a-Si:H photosensor was coupled with a microfluidic channel that was functionalized with a recombinant single chain variable fragment antibody. The biosensor selectively recognizes HIV-1 Vif from human cell extracts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c4an00695jDOI Listing
August 2014

Metabolic viability of Escherichia coli trapped by dielectrophoresis in microfluidics.

Electrophoresis 2013 Feb 24;34(4):575-82. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias and IN-Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Lisbon, Portugal.

The spatial and temporal control of biological species is essential in complex microfluidic biosystems. In addition, if the biological species is a cell, microfluidic handling must ensure that the cell's metabolic viability is maintained. The use of DEP for cell manipulation in microfluidics has many advantages because it is remote and fast, and the voltages required for cell trapping scale well with miniaturization. In this paper, the conditions for bacterial cell (Escherichia coli) trapping using a quadrupole electrode configuration in a PDMS microfluidic channel were developed both for stagnant and for in-flow fluidic situations. The effect of the electrical conductivity of the fluid, the applied electric field and frequency, and the fluid-flow velocity were studied. A dynamic exchange between captured and free-flowing cells during DEP trapping was demonstrated. The metabolic activity of trapped cells was confirmed by using E. coli cells genetically engineered to express green fluorescent protein under the control of an inducible promoter. Noninduced cells trapped by negative DEP and positive DEP were able to express green fluorescent protein minutes after the inducer was inserted in the microchannel system immediately after DEP trapping. Longer times of trapping prior to exposure to the inducer indicated first a degradation of the cell metabolic activity and finally cell death.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/elps.201200292DOI Listing
February 2013

Towards the miniaturization of GPCR-based live-cell screening assays.

Trends Biotechnol 2012 Nov 23;30(11):566-74. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Centre for Biological and Chemical Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal.

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a key role in many physiological or disease-related processes and for this reason are favorite targets of the pharmaceutical industry. Although ~30% of marketed drugs target GPCRs, their potential remains largely untapped. The discovery of new leads calls for the screening of thousands of compounds with high-throughput cell-based assays. Although microtiter plate-based high-throughput screening platforms are well established, microarray and microfluidic technologies hold potential for miniaturization, automation, and biosensor integration that may well redefine the format of GPCR screening assays. This paper reviews the latest research efforts directed to bringing microarray and microfluidic technologies into the realm of GPCR-based, live-cell screening assays.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2012.07.004DOI Listing
November 2012
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