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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P024041/1
Title: LC2 droplet biosensors: Lipid-coated Liquid Crystal Droplets as Highly Sensitive, Selective Sensors of Bacterial Toxins and other Bio-active Molecule
Principal Investigator: Gleeson, Professor H
Other Investigators:
Bushby, Professor RJ Evans, Professor SD Sandoe, Dr J
Peyman, Dr S Jones, Professor JC
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Merck KGaA
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2017 Ends: 31 May 2020 Value (£): 822,989
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biophysics Complex fluids & soft solids
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jan 2017 EPSRC Physical Sciences - January 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Point-of-care testing has been identified as a key element in the international strategy for combating antimicrobial resistance but really it is a key element in all areas of medical practice. At present many of the diagnostic methods which we use do not give the desired instantaneous feedback and are relatively expensive to use. This is particularly an issue in the third world. Our ultimate vision is to produce a paper or plastic strip, a bit like a liquid crystal thermometer, that will provide a specific color-change when it detects a particular bacterial toxin or other disease 'marker'. Test strips that can be used at the point of care, which are cheap and disposable and which do not require a source of power. These will be based on phospholipid (biomembrane-like) coated liquid crystal droplets. The intrinsic amplification properties and the remarkable sensitivity of liquid crystal droplets to bacterial toxins have already been demonstrated but there are a number significant problems that need to be overcome before this promise can be translated into a practicable system. Making use of the unique combination of skills and experience that exists at Leeds, this is what we aim to do. In particular we will develop systems for controlled production of uniform suspensions of droplets of the desired size, to achieve control over the alignment of the liquid crystal at the phopholipid interface, to develop methods for addressing bulk samples rather than (as has been the case so far) individual droplets, to find ways of 'packaging' the droplets either in gels or on surfaces, and to undertake a series of demonstrations of the response and selectivity of these droplets to series of increasingly difficult and demanding test systems mostly based around significant bacterial toxins. This exciting multidisciplinary approach that uses liquid crystals in a new way will both enhance our fundamental scientific understanding of liquid crystals, biomembranes and biomolecule interactions, and potentially provide a new way of diagnosing significant healthcare problems.
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk