Improved therapy response testing with graphene

Graphenea and partners started a new European project to improve therapy response testing with graphene. The project, titled “Multiparametric nanoelectronic biosensors for therapy response testing (MUNASET)”, started October 1st and will last for four years.

The goal of the project is to detect the response of human blood serum to pharmacological treatment for MDD, major depressive disorder. MDD is one of the most common and burdensome mental disorders worldwide, and one of the most expensive brain diseases. During the project, the consortium will create a new and versatile biosensor platform that can analyze the activity of multiple proteases in blood serum in real-time. The protease activity is related to MDD. The platform will consist of arrays of graphene field-effect transistors (GFETs), coated with designer peptides. Specifically, the focus is on two proteases, MMP 9 and MMP 2, as examples. The platform will work by detecting changes in electrical charge when these proteases cleave the peptides on the graphene. Simple electrical readout of the current in GFETs will be used to monitor MMP 9 and MMP 2 activity.

To make this into a practical system, the graphene sensors will be placed on small silicon chips, which can read multiple measurements at once. This miniaturized system will be able to detect different substances with high precision, a wide range of detection, a low detection limit, and very little need for reagent consumption. The team will test how well detection works in real serum using standard optical methods, and aim to make it a widely-used technology for measuring enzymes, going from an early technological development stage to a more mature one.

Currently, there are no fast, sensitive, miniaturized tests available for MDD. Development will be geared towards raising the interest of major diagnostic companies, for joint future work towards a commercial product.

Project MUNASET is an international effort, coordinated by Hochschule Kaiserslautern, with partnership of Graphenea, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz, VTT Finland, Pro-active (Belgium), and the Johannes Gutenberg Medical University in Mainz, with a total worth of 4 mEUR.