The partners in the NanoBio cluster are working on the following research themes:
Nanomaterials and nanostructures that can be interfaced with living organisms, vectorizing and releasing in vivo molecules;
Microsystems and chemistry for in vitro biomolecular detection and analysis;
Tools for molecular analysis and imaging.
Around these three themes CEA and UJF have assembled forces of a good competitive level in Europe.
At CEA 150 researchers (including the joint team with bioMérieux) working on the Science Park
A l’UJF, 138 chercheurs dans les unités mixtes des 3 sites et 20 personnels hospitalo-universitaires et techniques du CHU
Nanomaterials and nanostructures that can be interfaced with living organisms, vectorizing and releasing in vivo molecules
Thanks to their size and specific properties it will be possible to interface nanomaterials – individual nano-objects or nanostructures built to order by assembling atoms or molecules – with biomolecules or cells, thus adding to the tools available for exploring living organisms. This theme has a high potential for innovation, providing nanotechnology building bricks for the other two themes: microsystems and chemistry for in vitro biomolecular detection and analysis; tools for molecular analysis and imaging.
The prospects for scientific and technological breakthroughs in nanobiotechnology depend on effective coupling between this theme and the other two..
Vectorizing and releasing molecules
The overall aim is to generate synthetic molecular and nanoparticular vectors (by controlled assembly of molecules and particle functionalization) making it possible to target a trace element or drug in a tissue of particular interest. Building these guidance systems involves the chemical engineering of biomolecules playing a part in the recognition of targeted cells or tissue. These molecules are also used for molecular imaging.
These topics are the focus of basic and applied research by all the UJF and CEA laboratories.
Microsystems and chemistry for biomolecular detection and analysis
The purpose of developing microsystems for in vitro molecular analysis is to detect the presence of one or more molecules in a sample. The advantage compared with conventional macroscopic systems is being able to carry out a large number of analyses in parallel, saving time and money, on small batches of samples. This is a big advantage for the target applications.
This is a multi-disciplinary activity comprising the following steps:
architecture and design work to translate a multifunctional demand (from a biologist, for example) into an operational system including micro-components;
fabrication technology including the chemistry of the interfaces in the production of specific micro-components;
instrumentation for developing the data acquisition and processing systems associated with the micro-components,,
processes for producing new biological analysis protocols or adapting existing protocols for miniaturized tools.
To produce the biological analysis microsystems several technologies must be mastered:
chemistry (design, synthesis of molecular probes, attachments to solid media, reactions);
methods for detecting reactions (indicating the presence of a species in a sample);
microfluidics (controlling fluid movement);
technologies for forming and machining materials, as well as the corresponding packaging and assembly processes..
Theme 1, Nanomaterials and nanostructures that can be interfaced with living organisms will play a very important part in the future of these microsystems, enabling increasingly accurate, specific detection.
The Chemistry platform set up at Saint Martin d’Hères, in the Nanobio-Chemistry building, will address chemical synthesis of new molecules, their characterization and validation thanks to three technical plateaux (synthesis, surface functionalization and transduction, characterization).
Biological or clinical validation of these developments is vital and must be carried out as soon as work starts on designing the technology project and not after developing the prototype. This objective is central to collaboration with biologists, particularly on the Science Park and the Healthcare site.
Tools for molecular analysis and in vivo imaging
There is urgent demand for functional and molecular imaging systems for small mammals. Such systems make it possible to visualize molecular markers and/or markers linked to genes carried in the organ under study. A great many private and public laboratories are studying pathologies or treatment on mice and other mammals using these types of tool.
The aim is to be able to visualize non invasively molecular markers associated with specific diseases, in order to permit early detection.
The various projects combine development of markers (UJF) and instruments (CEA/Leti), and validation on small mammals or under clinical conditions (UJF-Inserm, CHU).