Postgraduate research opportunities

Responsive Nanosensors for Deep Raman Imaging of Bacteria and Biofilms

This project proposes to use specifically designed functionalised metal nanoparticles as optical imaging probes to target bacteria and biofilms at depth through skin and tissue for example deep tissue or joint infections.

Number of places

1

Opens

20 February 2020

Deadline

10 June 2020

Duration

36-48 months

Eligibility

A masters degree in a suitable subject e.g. Chemistry, Physics, Engineering.

Minimum of 2.1 classification.

Project Details

This project proposes to use specifically designed functionalised metal nanoparticles as optical imaging probes to target bacteria and biofilms at depth through skin and tissue for example deep tissue or joint infections.  This will be achieved using functionalised nanoparticles which will be designed to display a unique Raman response as well as having a biorecognition moiety, which targets bacteria specific biomarkers. The advantage of using Raman rather than fluorescence for optical imaging is the molecular specificity of the optical response and the ability to detect multiple SERS responses from multiple targets to be imaged for simultaneously if multiple bacteria exist in, for example, a biofilm. However, perhaps more importantly in this case, is the combination of surface enhanced spectroscopy and spatially offset Raman (SESORS), which allows detection of Raman signals at depth, with our recent work allowing detection of a breast tumor model at depths of 15 mm using a handheld instrument.

In this project we will develop new Raman-active chromophores as highly sensitive surface enhanced Raman probes. The specific reporters will be designed such that they will display Raman responses upon interaction with the target bacteria. We will explore chromophores that undergo a change in their chemical structure when reacting with the target as well as chromophores with shifts in their wavelengths upon target binding which will also change the SERS response. However, SESORS is a new approach and we will initially use model systems in the lab with live bacteria in tissue phantoms to optimise the nanoparticles and response to give a strong SERS response to allow them to be imaged at greater depths and also allow us to develop data analysis methodologies to create images in 2 and potentially 3 dimensions before moving to in vivo experiments. In addition, it may be possible to develop responsive nanoparticle systems that could potentially detect and treat the bacteria in a localised manner reducing the over use of antibiotics.

Techniques used:

Raman, SORS, Uv-Vis, nanoparticle synthesis and functionalisation.

References:

1-3D bioprinting of mature bacterial biofilms for antimicrobial resistance drug testing, E. Ning, G. Turnbull, J. Clarke, F. Picard, P. Riches, M. Vendrell, D. Graham, A.W. Wark, K. Faulds* W. Shu*, Biofabrication, 2019, 11(4), Article number: 045018

2-Through tissue imaging of a live breast cancer tumour model using handheld surface enhanced spatially offset resonance Raman spectroscopy (SESORRS), F. Nicolson, L.E. Jamieson, S. Mabbott, K. Plakas, N.C. Shand, M.R. Detty, D. Graham, K. Faulds *, Chemical Science, 2018, 9(15), 3788-3792

3-Multiplex Imaging of Live Breast Cancer Tumour Models Through Tissue Using Handheld Surface Enhanced Spatially Offset Resonance Raman Spectroscopy (SESORRS), F. Nicolson, L.E. Jamieson, S.Mabbott, K. Plakas, N.C. Shand, M.R. Detty, D. Graham, K. Faulds*, Chemical Communications, 2018, 54, 8530

Conditions: (e.g. experience in a specific technique, qualification)

Requires a masters degree in a suitable subject e.g. Chemistry, Physics, Engineering minimum of 2.1 classification.

 

Funding Details

Candidate must obtain their own funding.