Publications by authors named "Ruben R G Soares"

20 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Rolling Circle Amplification in Integrated Microsystems: An Uncut Gem toward Massively Multiplexed Pathogen Diagnostics and Genotyping.

Acc Chem Res 2021 Oct 12. Epub 2021 Oct 12.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Science for Life Laboratory, Stockholm University, 17165 Solna, Sweden.

ConspectusThe development of robust methods allowing the precise detection of specific nucleic acid sequences is of major societal relevance, paving the way for significant advances in biotechnology and biomedical engineering. These range from a better understanding of human disease at a molecular level, allowing the discovery and development of novel biopharmaceuticals and vaccines, to the improvement of biotechnological processes providing improved food quality and safety, efficient green fuels, and smart textiles. Among these applications, the significance of pathogen diagnostics as the main focus of this Account has become particularly clear during the recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In this context, while RT-PCR is the gold standard method for unambiguous detection of genetic material from pathogens, other isothermal amplification alternatives circumventing rapid heating-cooling cycles up to ∼95 °C are appealing to facilitate the translation of the assay into point-of-care (PoC) analytical platforms. Furthermore, the possibility of routinely multiplexing the detection of tens to hundreds of target sequences with single base pair specificity, currently not met by state-of-the-art methods available in clinical laboratories, would be instrumental along the path to tackle emergent viral variants and antimicrobial resistance genes. Here, we advocate that padlock probes (PLPs), first reported by Nilsson et al. in 1994, coupled with rolling circle amplification (RCA), termed here as PLP-RCA, is an underexploited technology in current arena of isothermal nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) providing an unprecedented degree of multiplexing, specificity, versatility, and amenability to integration in miniaturized PoC platforms. Furthermore, the intrinsically digital amplification of PLP-RCA retains spatial information and opens new avenues in the exploration of pathogenesis with spatial multiomics analysis of infected cells and tissue.The Account starts by introducing PLP-RCA in a nutshell focusing individually on the three main assay steps, namely, (1) PLP design and ligation mechanism, (2) RCA after probe ligation, and (3) detection of the RCA products. Each subject is touched upon succinctly but with sufficient detail for the reader to appreciate some assay intricacies and degree of versatility depending on the analytical challenge at hand. After familiarizing the reader with the method, we discuss specific examples of research in our group and others using PLP-RCA for viral, bacterial, and fungal diagnostics in a variety of clinical contexts, including the genotyping of antibiotic resistance genes and viral subtyping. Then, we dissect key developments in the miniaturization and integration of PLP-RCA to minimize user input, maximize analysis throughput, and expedite the time to results, ultimately aiming at PoC applications. These developments include molecular enrichment for maximum sensitivity, spatial arrays to maximize analytical throughput, automation of liquid handling to streamline the analytical workflow in miniaturized devices, and seamless integration of signal transduction to translate RCA product titers (and ideally spatial information) into a readable output. Finally, we position PLP-RCA in the current landscape of NAATs and furnish a systematic Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis to shine light upon unpolished edges to uncover the gem with potential for ubiquitous, precise, and unbiased pathogen diagnostics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.accounts.1c00438DOI Listing
October 2021

Sample-to-answer COVID-19 nucleic acid testing using a low-cost centrifugal microfluidic platform with bead-based signal enhancement and smartphone read-out.

Lab Chip 2021 08 11;21(15):2932-2944. Epub 2021 Jun 11.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Nanobiotechnology, Department of Protein Science, Science for Life Laboratory, Solna, Sweden. and AIMES - Center for the Advancement of Integrated Medical and Engineering Sciences at Karolinska Institutet and, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

With its origin estimated around December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is a major global health challenge. The demand for scalable, rapid and sensitive viral diagnostics is thus particularly pressing at present to help contain the rapid spread of infection and prevent overwhelming the capacity of health systems. While high-income countries have managed to rapidly expand diagnostic capacities, such is not the case in resource-limited settings of low- to medium-income countries. Aiming at developing cost-effective viral load detection systems for point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostics in resource-limited and resource-rich settings alike, we report the development of an integrated modular centrifugal microfluidic platform to perform loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) of viral RNA directly from heat-inactivated nasopharyngeal swab samples. The discs were pre-packed with dried n-benzyl-n-methylethanolamine modified agarose beads used to selectively remove primer dimers, inactivate the reaction post-amplification and allowing enhanced fluorescence detection via a smartphone camera. Sample-to-answer analysis within 1 hour from sample collection and a detection limit of approximately 100 RNA copies in 10 μL reaction volume were achieved. The platform was validated with a panel of 162 nasopharyngeal swab samples collected from patients with COVID-19 symptoms, providing a sensitivity of 96.6% (82.2-99.9%, 95% CI) for samples with Ct values below 26 and a specificity of 100% (90-100%, 95% CI), thus being fit-for-purpose to diagnose patients with a high risk of viral transmission. These results show significant promise towards bringing routine point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostics to resource-limited settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d1lc00266jDOI Listing
August 2021

Multiplexed Microfluidic Cartridge for At-Line Protein Monitoring in Mammalian Cell Culture Processes for Biopharmaceutical Production.

ACS Sens 2021 03 16;6(3):842-851. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Nanobiotechnology, Department of Protein Science, Science for Life Laboratory, 171 21 Solna, Sweden.

The biopharmaceutical market has been rapidly growing in recent years, creating a highly competitive arena where R&D is critical to strike a balance between clinical safety and profitability. Toward process optimization, the recent development and adoption of new process analytical technologies (PAT) highlight the dynamic complexity of mammalian/human cell culture processes, as well as the importance of fine-tuning and modeling key metabolites and proteins. In this context, simple, rapid, and cost-effective devices allowing routine at-line monitoring of specific proteins during process development and production are currently lacking. Here, we report the development of a versatile microfluidic protein analysis cartridge allowing the multiplexed bead-based immunodetection of specific proteins directly from complex mixtures with minimal hands-on time. Colorimetric quantification of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) host cell proteins as key impurities, monoclonal antibodies as target biopharmaceuticals, and lactate dehydrogenase as a marker of cell viability was achieved with limits of detection in the 1-10 ng/mL range and analysis times as short as 30 min. The device was further demonstrated for the monitoring of a Rituximab-producing CHO cell bioreactor over the course of 8 days, providing comparable recoveries to standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. The high sensitivity combined with robustness to matrix interference highlights the potential of the device to perform at-line measurements spanning from the bioreactor to the downstream processing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssensors.0c01884DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8034812PMC
March 2021

Multi-layer assembly of cellulose nanofibrils in a microfluidic device for the selective capture and release of viable tumor cells from whole blood.

Nanoscale 2020 Nov;12(42):21788-21797

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Division of Nanobiotechnology, Department of Protein Science, Science for Life Laboratory, Solna, Sweden.

According to reports by the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer-related deaths reached almost 10 million in 2018. Nearly 65% of these deaths occurred in low- to middle-income countries, a trend that is bound to increase since cancer diagnostics are not currently considered a priority in resource-limited settings (RLS). Thus, cost-effective and specific cancer screening and diagnostics tools are in high demand, particularly in RLS. The selective isolation and up-concentration of rare cells while maintaining cell viability and preventing phenotypic changes is a powerful tool to allow accurate and sensitive downstream analysis. Here, multi-layer cellulose nanofibril-based coatings functionalized with anti-EpCAM antibodies on the surface of disposable microfluidic devices were optimized for specific capture of target cells, followed by efficient release without significant adverse effects. HCT 116 colon cancer cells were captured in a single step with >97% efficiency at 41.25 μL min-1 and, when spiked in whole blood, an average enrichment factor of ∼200-fold relative to white blood cells was achieved. The release of cells was performed by enzymatic digestion of the cellulose nanofibrils which had a negligible impact on cell viability. In particular, >80% of the cells were recovered with at least 97% viability in less than 30 min. Such performance paves the way to expand and improve clinical diagnostic applications by simplifying the isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and other rare cells directly from whole blood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/d0nr05375aDOI Listing
November 2020

Airborne spread of infectious SARS-CoV-2: Moving forward using lessons from SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Apr 8;764:142802. Epub 2020 Oct 8.

Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS), University of Porto, Porto, Portugal; Epidemiology Research Unit (EPIUnit), Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal. Electronic address:

Background: Although an increasing body of data reports the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in air, this does not correlate to the presence of infectious viruses, thus not evaluating the risk for airborne COVID-19. Hence there is a marked knowledge gap that requires urgent attention. Therefore, in this systematic review, viability/stability of airborne SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV viruses is discussed.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed on PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science and Scopus to assess the stability and viability of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 on air samples.

Results And Discussion: The initial search identified 27 articles. Following screening of titles and abstracts and removing duplicates, 11 articles were considered relevant. Temperatures ranging from 20 °C to 25 °C and relative humidity ranging from 40% to 50% were reported to have a protective effect on viral viability for airborne SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. As no data is yet available on the conditions influencing viability for airborne SARS-CoV-2, and given the genetic similarity to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, one could extrapolate that the same conditions would apply. Nonetheless, the effect of these conditions seems to be residual considering the increasing number of cases in the south of USA, Brazil and India, where high temperatures and humidities have been observed.

Conclusion: Higher temperatures and high relative humidity can have a modest effect on SARS-CoV-2 viability in the environment, as reported in previous studies to this date. However, these studies are experimental, and do not support the fact that the virus has efficiently spread in the tropical regions of the globe, with other transmission routes such as the contact and droplet ones probably being responsible for the majority of cases reported in these regions, along with other factors such as human mobility patterns and contact rates. Further studies are needed to investigate the extent of aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 as this would have important implications for public health and infection-control policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142802DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7543729PMC
April 2021

Sub-attomole detection of HIV-1 using padlock probes and rolling circle amplification combined with microfluidic affinity chromatography.

Biosens Bioelectron 2020 Oct 26;166:112442. Epub 2020 Jul 26.

Division of Nanobiotechnology, Department of Protein Science, Science for Life Laboratory, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Solna, Sweden. Electronic address:

Despite significant progress in diagnostics and disease management during the past decades, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are still responsible for nearly 1 million deaths every year, mostly in resource-limited settings. Thus, novel, accurate and cost-effective tools for viral load monitoring become crucial to allow specific diagnostics and the effective monitoring of the associated antiviral therapies. Herein, we report an effective combination of a (1) padlock probe (PLP)-mediated rolling circle amplification (RCA) bioassay and an (2) agarose bead-based microfluidic device for the affinity chromatography-based capture and detection of RCA products (RCPs) pre-labelled simultaneously with biotin and an organic fluorophore. This method allowed the efficient capture of ~1 μm-sized RCPs followed by their quantification either as discrete signals or an average fluorescence signal, thus being compatible with both high-resolution imaging for maximum sensitivity as well as simpler optical detection setups. A limit of detection < 30 fM was obtained for HIV-1 synthetic target with just a single round of RCA, comparable to recently reported procedures requiring technically complex amplification strategies such as hyperbranching and/or enzymatic digestion/amplification. Furthermore, targeting a set of five conserved regions in the HIV-1 gag gene, the method could specifically detect HIV-1 in 293T cell culture supernatants, as well as a set of 11 HIV-1 NIH reference samples with four different subtypes. The reported method provides simplicity of operation, unique versatility of signal transduction (i.e. average or discrete signals), and potential coupling with previously reported miniaturized photodetectors. These combined features hold promise for bringing RCA-based molecular diagnostics closer to the point-of-care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2020.112442DOI Listing
October 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

Minimizing the Influence of Fluorescent Tags on IgG Partition in PEG-Salt Aqueous Two-Phase Systems for Rapid Screening Applications.

Biotechnol J 2019 Aug 17;14(8):e1800640. Epub 2019 May 17.

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

Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) has been showing significant potential in the biopharmaceutical industry, allowing the selective separation of high-value proteins directly from unclarified cell culture supernatants. In this context, effective high-throughput screening tools are critical to perform a rapid empirical optimization of operating conditions. In particular, microfluidic ATPE screening devices, coupled with fluorescence microscopy to continuously monitor the partition of fluorophore-labeled proteins, have been recently demonstrated to provide short diffusion distances and rapid partition, using minimal reagent volumes. Nevertheless, the currently overlooked influence of the labeling procedure on partition must be carefully evaluated to validate the extrapolation of results to the unlabeled molecule. Here, three fluorophores with different global charge and reactivity selected to label immunoglobulin G (IgG) at degrees of labeling (DoL) ranging from 0.5 to 7.6. Labeling with BODIPY FL maleimide (DoL = 0.5), combined with tris(2-carboxyethyl) phosphine (TCEP) to generate free thiol groups, is the most promising strategy to minimize the influence of the fluorophore on partition. In particular, the partition coefficient (K ) measured in polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350-phosphate systems with and without the addition of NaCl using microtubes (batch) or microfluidic devices (continuous) is comparable to those quantified for the native protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/biot.201800640DOI 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

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

Lab-on-chip systems for integrated bioanalyses.

Essays Biochem 2016 06;60(1):121-31

Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas E Computadores-Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC MN) and IN-Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Rua Alves Redol, 9, 1000-029 Lisbon, Portugal.

Biomolecular detection systems based on microfluidics are often called lab-on-chip systems. To fully benefit from the miniaturization resulting from microfluidics, one aims to develop 'from sample-to-answer' analytical systems, in which the input is a raw or minimally processed biological, food/feed or environmental sample and the output is a quantitative or qualitative assessment of one or more analytes of interest. In general, such systems will require the integration of several steps or operations to perform their function. This review will discuss these stages of operation, including fluidic handling, which assures that the desired fluid arrives at a specific location at the right time and under the appropriate flow conditions; molecular recognition, which allows the capture of specific analytes at precise locations on the chip; transduction of the molecular recognition event into a measurable signal; sample preparation upstream from analyte capture; and signal amplification procedures to increase sensitivity. Seamless integration of the different stages is required to achieve a point-of-care/point-of-use lab-on-chip device that allows analyte detection at the relevant sensitivity ranges, with a competitive analysis time and cost.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/EBC20150013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4986467PMC
June 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

Partitioning in aqueous two-phase systems: Analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Biotechnol J 2015 Aug 24;10(8):1158-69. Epub 2015 Jul 24.

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

For half a century aqueous two-phase systems (ATPSs) have been applied for the extraction and purification of biomolecules. In spite of their simplicity, selectivity, and relatively low cost they have not been significantly employed for industrial scale bioprocessing. Recently their ability to be readily scaled and interface easily in single-use, flexible biomanufacturing has led to industrial re-evaluation of ATPSs. The purpose of this review is to perform a SWOT analysis that includes a discussion of: (i) strengths of ATPS partitioning as an effective and simple platform for biomolecule purification; (ii) weaknesses of ATPS partitioning in regard to intrinsic problems and possible solutions; (iii) opportunities related to biotechnological challenges that ATPS partitioning may solve; and (iv) threats related to alternative techniques that may compete with ATPS in performance, economic benefits, scale up and reliability. This approach provides insight into the current status of ATPS as a bioprocessing technique and it can be concluded that most of the perceived weakness towards industrial implementation have now been largely overcome, thus paving the way for opportunities in fermentation feed clarification, integration in multi-stage operations and in single-step purification processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/biot.201400532DOI Listing
August 2015

A microfluidic immunoassay platform for the detection of free prostate specific antigen: a systematic and quantitative approach.

Analyst 2015 Jul;140(13):4423-33

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

As a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men globally, prostate cancer (PCa) demands immense attention for theranostic purposes. There is an increasing need for the development of rapid, sensitive, economical, miniaturized and multiplexable assays. Towards this goal, we present a systematic approach for the optimisation of a microfluidic sandwich immunoassay, which can be applied as a generic biosensor platform for PCa detection. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) was used as the model biomarker, and its free form was captured using commercially available antibodies and detected using chemiluminescence, both in spiked buffer and matrix solutions. Along with the optimisation of surface chemistry and microfluidic parameters, we report a bio-affinity amplification strategy based on biotin-streptavidin chemistry to bring the limits of detection for free-PSA from 21.4 ng mL(-1) down to 2.7 ng mL(-1), within the clinically relevant range. An estimate of the surface coverage and simulations of the interactions taking place in the microfluidic biosensor during the assay are also presented. This novel platform using a simple passive adsorption-based bio-affinity strategy, when coupled with multiplexing and integrated detection, can serve as a promising point-of-care diagnostic tool for PCa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c5an00364dDOI Listing
July 2015
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