Molecularly Imprinted Nanoparticles (MIP NPs) as non-animal antibodies substitutes for detection of viruses

This Fellowship proposal aims to determine if artificial antibodies - molecularly imprinted nanoparticles (MIP NPs) - can be developed as new diagnostic/therapeutic entities in veterinary medicine to directly replace bioassays for a very important infectious disease, avian influenza, which possesses an immense potential for harm to poultry, and also a dangerously high chance to spread from poultry and pigs to humans. To date, the molecular imprinting of polymers represents the most generic, versatile, scalable and cost-effective approach to the creation of synthetic molecular receptors. Recent developments in the automated synthesis of MIP NPs using an immobilised template approach pioneered in the group of Prof. Piletsky meant that for the first time a reliable supply of "soluble" synthetic nanoparticles with pre-determined molecular recognition and/or catalytic properties with sub-nanomolar affinities, defined size and surface chemistry can be made available for testing as potential bioactives. These bioactives may have the potential to detect viruses that are widely circulating in farm animals and indeed humans. Early and accurate identification of the infectious agent will expedite appropriate control and even treatment measures. Therefore, the research into the development of MIP NPs with high affinity coupled with diagnostic technology could be a significant contribution to the scientific advancement and cost effective diagnosis at global scale.

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Gouveia VM et al. (2019). Macrophage Targeting pH Responsive Polymersomes for Glucocorticoid Therapy. Pharmaceutics 11(11):614. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics11110614

Rodríguez-Arco L et al. (2019). Molecular bionics - engineering biomaterials at the molecular level using biological principles. Biomaterials 192:26-50). doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2018.10.044

Canfarotta F et al. (2018). Specific Drug Delivery to Cancer Cells with Double-Imprinted Nanoparticles against Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor. Nano Letters 18(8):4641-4646. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b03206

Ellis E et al. (2017). Biocompatible pH-responsive nanoparticles with a core-anchored multilayer shell of triblock copolymers for enhanced cancer therapy. Journal of Materials Chemistry B 23 doi: 10.1039/C7TB00654C

Brahmbhatt H et al. (2016). Improvement of DNA recognition through molecular imprinting: hybrid oligomer imprinted polymeric nanoparticles (oligoMIP NPs). Biomater Sci 4(2):281-7. doi: 10.1039/c5bm00341e

Canfarotta F et al. (2016). Solid-phase synthesis of molecularly imprinted nanoparticles. Nature Protocols 11(3):443-55. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.030

Poma A et al. (2015). Generation of novel hybrid aptamer-molecularly imprinted polymeric nanoparticles. Adv Mater 27(4):750-8. doi: 10.1002/adma.201404235 

Turner NW et al. (2015). Analytical methods for determination of mycotoxins: An update (2009-2014). Analytica Chimica Acta 901:12-33. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2015.10.013


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Principal investigator

Dr Alessandro Poma


University College London

Grant reference number


Award date

Sep 2014 - Sep 2017

Grant amount