The project was funded by the BMBF over the period 2013-2016. The project was embedded in the market-oriented InnoProfile-Transfer project of the same name with subprojects of Attomol GmbH (Lipten), GA Generic Assays GmbH (Dahlewitz), PolyAn GmbH (Berlin) and BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg.
As part of the previous InnoProfile project "New technologies for molecular diagnostics - real-time PCR array", funded by the BMBF over the period 2007-2012, a device platform for applications in basic research and medical diagnostics was developed. This so-called "VideoScan" technology is based on fluorescence microscopy and is used for the automated and standardized detection of biomolecules, microparticles, bacteria, eukaryotic cells and other fluorescent objects.
The technical goal of the InnoProfile Transfer project "Multiplex-Bead-Assays" was the further investigation of microparticle systems for application at constant temperatures, e.g. the detection of antigens and the measurement of the catalytic activity of enzymes. The aim was to develop detection methods closely aligned to the needs of routine medical diagnostics. Standard protocols should be established with which our methods can be easily applied to other areas of application.
The aim of the joint project is the development of microparticle-based detection methods for use in routine medical diagnostics and in the life sciences. In this context, microparticles are investigated with regard to their surface functionality, their suitability for coupling biomolecules and their compatibility. A special focus is on the establishment of standardized coupling methods, e.g. for DNA, proteins and peptides, in order to be able to use the microparticles in a variety of ways and for various medical applications.
The research priorities of the interdisciplinary InnoProfile-Transfer-Initiative also address important questions of the participating industrial partners. In addition to the transfer of knowledge, the new innovative techniques will be adopted by the project partners for their own R&D. This leads to a further strengthening of the research and economic profile of the Lausitz/Berlin region in the field of multiparameter analysis.
Innovative microparticle-based assays
The detection tests to be established here are based on the coupling of biomolecules on the microparticle surface, which in turn act as binding partners for biomolecules to be detected. In the previous InnoProfile initiative "Molecular Diagnostics" led by Prof. Dr. Christian Schröder and Prof. Dr. Peter Schierack, the research group succeeded in functionally coupling antigens and DNA to a microparticle surface, binding disease-associated antibodies from patient series to them and quantifying them using VideoScan technology.
In order to expand the application in medical diagnostics, antibodies will be coupled to the microparticle surface in the InnoProfile Transfer Initiative in order to detect disease-relevant antigens (e.g. cytokines). The binding of proteins to the microparticles is a central and time-consuming process. Often proteins bind undirected on the microparticle surface, which leads to a loss of activity. The research group has set itself the goal of developing a method for the optimised directed immobilisation of proteins.
Quality assurance of microparticle-based assays
Standardization of the established microparticle systems is a basic prerequisite for later commercialization. For this reason, the InnoProfile-Transfer-Initiative in Senftenberg establishes calibration and standard microparticles which are integrated into the tests. These reference microparticles must meet certain criteria. For example, they must not clump with other microparticles, must be biocompatible or should be able to be stored for a very long time - optimally at room temperature - without loss of quality.
Hardware and software development
For all newly established detection tests, the VideoScan technology and its software must be adapted accordingly. For this purpose, software packages as well as hardware must be continuously integrated or further developed. In addition to the standard 96-well format, 384-well plates are also tested for the applications in order to achieve an even higher throughput of samples to be analyzed.