ASP projects

NDT: Nanobiotechnologies for diagnostics and innovative therapies: opportunities and scenarios

In a study by the NIH (National Institutes of Health, in the USA) reported in Science in 2006 to identify ‘Grand Challenges for Global Health’, two of the 14 priorities involved diagnosis and measurement of patients’ health statuses: first ‘’develop technologies that allow assessment of individuals for multiple conditions or pathogens at point-of-care’’, and second ‘’develop technologies that permit quantitative assessment of population health status’’. In this context, micro and nanotechnologies find even more challenging demands from biology and life sciences, showing high potentiality also for applications in molecular diagnostics and personalized pharmacology. These new and emerging technologies are clinically relevant, enable the diagnosis at molecular levels, and some of these can be included into current molecular diagnostics such as Lab on Chip (LOC). LOC research holds substantial potential for fulfilling these priorities by automating complex diagnostic procedures that are normally performed in a centralized laboratory into a hand-held microfluidic chip; this capability could empower health-care workers and patients with important health-related information even in every day life. The fields of application, practically unlimited, ranges over a lot of topics from cancer research, DNA analysis, to allergy, diabetes and HIV tests. Designing and fabricating such systems is extremely challenging, but engineers, physicists, biologists and designers are beginning to construct highly integrated and compact labs on chips with exciting functionality, as outlined in this project. NDT project mission focused on a real interdisciplinary approach for the exploitation and evaluation of opportunities and scenarios for extending the limits of current molecular diagnostics. It enables Lab on Chip and Point-of-Care (POC) diagnosis as well as the development of personalized medicine through a dramatic improvement in a very broad range of features and opportunities. The use of actual small volumes to reduce the time taken to synthesize and analyze a product; the unique behavior of liquids on the micro and nano scale which allows greater control of molecular concentrations and interaction. Reagent costs and the amount of chemical waste that can be greatly reduced are only some examples of the topics which constituted the problem understanding for the two different teams. Their work is geared towards genomic and proteomic applications respectively, performing two distinct approaches, but also exploring some common solutions.
In this context, and following indications from ST Microelectronics’ experts and from the academic tutors, the teams identified some strong key barriers for a more rapid and concrete diffusion of LOC technologies and proposed some common solutions. Particularly relevant is to be considered a worthy cooperation between NDT teams and FIMMG (Federazione Italiana Medici di Famiglia) which led to the design and realization of a specific web survey and a project of a handbook for the LOC knowledge dissemination and awareness enhancement of General Practitioners. ST Microelectronics and FIMMG greatly appreciated the proposals and considered them a concrete follow up of the NDT project towards the development of future profitable partnerships and collaborations.

Principal Academic Tutors
Marinella Levi
Chemistry Materials and Chemical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Academic Tutors
Pierluigi Civera
Electronics, Politecnico di Torino
Carlo Ghezzi
Electronics and Information, Politecnico di Milano
Andrea Lacaita
Electronics and Information, Politecnico di Milano
Cristina Masella
Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

External institutions

External Tutors
Marco De Fazio
Marco Bianchessi

Team members
Federico Bonacina [Team controller], Electronics engineering
Stefano Fissolo, PhysicalEngineering
Michele Pugliese, Biomedical Engineering
Nerea Zenigaonaindia, Environmentally friendly product Design

Andrea Tarelli [Team controller], Electronics Engineering
Chiara Bellini, Biomedical Engineering
Fabio Cancarè [Project Communication Coordinator], Engineering Computing Systems
Andrea Gastaldi, Chemical Engineering
Maria Luisa Grossi, Electronics Engineering
Alex Urrutia Rivero, Environmentally friendly product Design

Download the poster of the Project