Synthetic Biology Biosensor Design for Personal therapeutics

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Nicolas Kylilis, Polizzi K. & Freemont P.

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

The goal of this study is to develop a new biosensor platform technology for point-of-care testing, specifically designed for the detection of medically relevant protein biomarkers. The shift of focus from centralised laboratories to point-care testing has the potential to greatly improve patient care as well as to slash costs to healthcare providers and insurers. The study will address the question of whether recent technological advancements in the field of synthetic biology can be utilised for the development of a reliable and affordable biosensor for the detection of a model biomarker protein that can compete with established market products. Two different approaches will be investigated. The first will make use of an in-vitro assay based on ribo-switch technology in which a protein biomarker binding to an aptamer domain results in reporter molecule expression. The second approach will involve a whole-cell biosensor with surface displayed llama antibody fragments. The presence of the biomarker molecules will bring cells with different antigen specificity in close proximity, resulting in a quantifiable signal for the user to read. The development of a system that can detect and accurately quantify protein concentrations and can integrate with existing biosensor modules will result in extending the use of synthetic biology biosensors to new application areas and analysis of even more complex sample mixtures.