Project Title: BSELF - Self-assembled functionalized nanomaterials for biomolecular recognition

Reliable and fast analytical methods are needed in several areas such as clinical analysis and food and environmental control to ensure the health of patients and safety of consumers, to provide tools for monitoring the environment and to establish the proper corrective measures or clinical treatment. In this sense, the use of nanoparticles (NPs) represent an interesting alternative to some conventional reagents since they present new structural and physicochemical properties that are not shown by the bulk matter, contributing to increase the sensitivity of analytical methods. Moreover, NPs present some interesting advantages for sensing applications, such as ease of synthesis, a high specific surface area and the possibility of being functionalized with a variety of molecules such as peptides, DNA sequences, antibodies or aptamers, which makes them suitable as a platform for the detection of a range of biologically relevant analytes.

However, in order to be able to take advantage of the unique properties offered by custom-designed nanoscale and nanobio systems for its use on sensing applications, nanoparticle (NP) based systems must be carefully designed and analytical performance of the methodology evaluated.  Therefore, this proposal aims to address two major areas in the design and development of practical biosensors: 1) designing nanoparticle (NP) based systems that can perform in complex environments, and 2) developing robust and reproducible protocols for biofunctionalization of surfaces and nanostructures.

The project includes:

Bottom-up fabrication of nanoparticles suitable for sensing and functionalization, i.e., with magnetic and/or optical properties and with tailored surfaces.

Controlled surface functionalization of nanoparticles and other inorganic surfaces with molecular probes that can recognize with high specificity a particular molecular target.

Development of detection methods based on the target-induced self-assembly of biofunctionalized nanoparticles. Assembly-induced changes in optical and magnetic properties of NPs will be used as detection signals.

Determination of the feasibility of the developed method for analysis of complex samples (e.g., food products).


Expected results are among others:

Fully characterized gold and iron oxide NPs and wet chemical synthesis protocols

Well-defined functionalization protocols for different biomolecules on the synthesized NPs

Validated protocols for quantitative analysis of DNA-functionalized monolithic and core-shell NPs using complementary surface-based measurements

Well-defined protocols for the analysis of “real-world” samples (clinical, food and environmental samples)


Project financed by: ON2 - O Novo Norte – The north regional operational programme

Priority Axis I – Competitiveness, Innovation and Knowledge.

Call: SAESCTN-PIIC&DT/1/2011

Total budget: 358K€

Financing: 329K€