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New possibilities at the nano-bio-chem interface – how to combine nanotech, biology and chemistry into new technological possibilities?

Discussion

This explores new possibilities at the intersection of nanotechnology, (cell-)biology, chemistry and information science. This can be aimed at new tools and techniques for advancing research (e.g., in neuroscience or biology), at the conception of novel systems and materials (e.g., synthetic or hybrid ones) or at applications for new implants, drug delivery, generative medicine. We seek strong synergies between the different disciplines for jointly exploring such new technological possibilities.

What are we looking for?
•    What should be the orientation of research on this topic? As stated, do you feel it is too broad or, on the contrary, too narrow?
•    Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
•    Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?
•    What is needed at this point to advance this? More exploration of different ideas? More coordination among groups or related initiatives? A strong push for a precise technological target and, if so, which one? Anything else?

Background: Following the last FET consultation during 2012-13, 9 topics were identified as candidates for a FET Proactive. This topic has not been selected for inclusion in the FET Work Programme for 2014-15. Comments are invited on whether this topic is still relevant, or if any changes would be necessary to take account of recent research results. We are also trying to understand better how to advance these areas.

To participate to the consultation:
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You can also participate by commenting on submitted ideas and/or voting for them.

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Comments

Antonio Ornelas-soares's picture

Dear Beatrice, I would like to point to the X-Prize and one of their venues, the new Tricorder as a fantastic example of the potential everyday use of a practical outcome form the intersection of nano-bio-chem as well as communication (mHealth) and information science..

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Ronan Murphy's picture

Dear Beatrice,
I think an important topic to consider in this area is the targeting of epigenetic mechanisms of chronic illness progression (CVD is our area of research in this field). I believe it is a crucial area to study in developing any future therapeutic pipline and also to expand our understanding of these illnesses.
With best wishes,
ronan

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Ulrich Hofmann's picture

Dear Beatrice,
this topic is indeed of high interest, still. The presumed interdisciplinarity is the only way to push the usability of any type of "active implant". But I would strongly suggest to add more than basic research on the existing pile, and instead emphasize a clear clinical orientation! What good does the best engineering approach do, if it fails already in a pre-clnical study after a couple of weeks.... not to mention in patients later.

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Philippe Francois-xavier Corvini's picture

Dear Beatrice,
The topic sounds very interesting but appears to be restricted to biomedical applications. I really believe that other fields like environmental technologies (e.g. design of remediation systems, valorization of bioresources), white biotech (e.g. self-regenerating co-factors and Enzyme cascades) and material sciences can also strongly benefit from an initiative on the combination of nanotech, biology and chemistry

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Johan Elvnert's picture

Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES), produced by plants, open the way to produce at low temperatures and at atmospheric pressure. Using DES, any type of biomass could be dissolved into lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose with minimal energy emmissions and residues.
Deep Eutectic Solvents are an adaptation of a natural phenomenon known from plant metabolism that allows plants to dissolve biomass and selectively extract components even during drought or frost. One could say that DES are designer solvents that allows solids to melt at lower temperature than any of its individual components.
Much more research is needed on this future technology, but it would allow for completely new biomass processing concepts in for instance biorefineries. This could either be very interesting topic within a nano-bio-chem interface FET, or a stand alone FET concept.

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Jennifer Kockx's picture

Comments by:
Prof. Marileen Dogterom (department chair Bionanoscience, TU Delft, the Netherlands)
Prof. Cees Dekker (director of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft, TU Delft, the Netherlands)

Research on the interface between nano-bio-chem and physics has a very high potential to lead to new scientific breakthroughs and game-changing technologies in the coming decades and therefore is a very relevant top for FET Proactive.

Hereby our comments:
- In the teaser text we would add ‘(bio-)physics’ as one of the essential disciplines for this multidisciplinary field (see changes in tekst below):
New possibilities at the nano- bio-chem-phys interface – how to combine nanotech, biology, chemistry and physics into new technological possibilities?
This explores new possibilities at the intersection of nanotechnology, (cell-)biology, chemistry, physics and information science. This can be aimed at new tools and techniques for advancing research (e.g., in neuroscience or biology), at the conception of novel systems and materials (e.g., synthetic or hybrid ones) or at applications for new implants, drug delivery, generative medicine. We seek strong synergies between the different disciplines for jointly exploring such new technological possibilities.
- The orientation of the research is good as described (not too broad and too narrow).
- Recent relevant results in this field: Nanotechnology for protein/DNA sequencing, active bio-inspired materials for regenerative medicine and organs on chips (Wyss) for human disease models.
- Research community: In Europe there is an increasing number of multidisciplinary research departments and institutes working in this field. Examples in the Netherlands are found at the TU Delft, AMOLF Amsterdam, University of Nijmegen, University of Groningen. Examples elsewhere in Europe include the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry at Martinsried (D), CENS at Munich (D), Oxford University (UK).
- Related initiatives at national (Dutch) level are the NanoFront program. (http://casimir.researchschool.nl/research-2052.html), Nanonext: theme bio-nano (http://www.nanonextnl.nl/themes/bio-nano.html) and in the development stage: the Institute for Human organ and Disease Model Technologies (hDMT/Organs on a chip).
- What is needed to advance at this point is funding for and training in multidisciplinary research with a link to industry and societal partners. Facilitate that the industry can easily get in contact with these multidisciplinary teams (it is pleasant for industry to have one entry-point where all relevant disciplines cooperate). Since this research topic is still at a relative early/fundamental stage, these multidisciplinary research teams should have the endorsement of companies, but no cash commitment. This is necessary to push this field forward in terms of technology.

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Thomas Krauss's picture

Dear All,
I beleive that very exciting challenge is to use novel design tools (such as CASTEP) to design nanomaterials with desired functionalities, and to get away from the more empirical way of designing materials that we have used in the past. Specific examples for such materials include perovskites, which have recently come to the fore as very promising materials for solar cells, yet also have potential for light emission applications; many materials used in photocatalysis still corrode too easily - can we design them better ? The range of materials whose properties we may wish to improve is endless.

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Daniela Mendoza's picture

Dear All,

Regarding related initiatives in this Topic, we would like to develop a project among experts in the field of systems for clinical therapy, wound healing and precision nano/microfabrication, regenerative medicine, electroconducting materials and rehabilitation, to develop innovative implantable biomedical devices for the treatment of human injuries.

Our project expects a high impact in human health as the new biomedical devices to be developed will provide an essential tool for the treatment of injuries, and will also pave the way to the market for other pharmacological and technological approaches in this field.

For this reason, we consider that our project fits in this Topic and we are sure the results will comply with the expectations of the FET Work Programme.

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Daniela Corda's picture

This is the only topic that includes the life sciences in FET proactive. it is important that new ideas in different fields of biology, that can be exploited for better diagnosis and cure of diseases (for example) can be developed in an interdisciplinary manner, using the "nano and chem" expertise. Thus, the topic could be very open to challenging ideas, to be realized at the crossroad of these three different/complementary expertise.

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Roberta Ramponi's picture

The use of photonics technologies, functionalities and materials can be of great impact in the nano-bio-chem field, both for diagnostic and therapeutical applications. Smart light-matter interaction at interfaces can open completely new possibilities

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Kamen Nedev's picture

Herewith, I am giving my strong support to the comments given by Prof. M. Dogterom and Prof. C. Dekker!
Especially, for adding Physics to the topic title, as well as for stressing the educational (training) aspects. As an additional and relevant target I would propose the shift from Si to C, namely the Organic/Bio Micro/Nano Electronics, in all of its scientific, materials, technological and application paths.

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Loredana De Bartolo's picture

Dear Beatrice,
The development of an interdisciplinary technological platform that combines nanotech, biology and chemistry looks quite appealing to me for a very promising for an interesting new FET.
A very interesting approach could the realization of a multifunctional scaffold through a more biologically and rationally based method. The realization of a novel system and materials represents a key point for advancing research considering the increasing of clinical and social needs particularly for the age-related pathologies. A major point is the improvement of biomaterials that have been developed in these years since they show some limitations such; for instance, living tissue can respond to changing physiological loads or biochemical stimuli but synthetic materials cannot.
Therefore, the big challenge is the realization of an innovative-engineered scaffold that offers to the cells the most suitable environment by satisfying the morphological, mechanical and biophysical properties in order to mimic the 3D in vivo.

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Wilfred Van Der Wiel's picture

• What should be the orientation of research on this topic?
Magnetic field effects in organic semiconductors.

The fact that an electronic spin on an organic molecule couples only very weakly to other degrees of freedom is at the heart of an emerging field in which organic magnetic field effects are studied and exploited. One could say that an electronic spin on an organic molecule is almost like a free spin in a nano-container. The nano-containment leads to energy-level splittings much larger than the thermal energy at room temperature, so that the spin is also protected from thermal excitation to higher energy levels. This results in fascinating room-temperature quantum effects manifesting themselves under application of an external magnetic field. If the molecules are sufficiently weakly coupled, the location of the spin evolves incoherently by hopping from one molecule to another, but the spin degree of freedom itself evolves fully coherently. When two spins encounter each other they can undergo a spin-selective reaction, which can be considered as a spin measurement. Very small magnetic fields can influence this reaction. The resulting magnetic field effects can be exploited in many ways. Combined with spin resonance techniques, for example, ultra-sensitive magnetic field sensors can be made. The effects are being studied in spin chemistry and biology, where one of the focuses is on a supposed quantum-biological compass used by, among other animals, migrating birds for their orientation in the Earth magnetic field. It has recently been discovered that the effects also occur in organic devices like OLEDs, so that they have become electrically addressable. In one-dimensional organic molecular wires an ultra-high room-temperature magnetoresistance has been measured that is larger than any other known room-temperature low-field magnetoresistance effect. In analogy to coupled quantum-dot systems the effects can be used for quantum information processing, with the important difference that room-temperature operation will be possible instead of operation at cryogenic temperatures.

• Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
There is a growing interest in this direction and some first scientific results have been obtained . There is however no well-established community on this topic, and a FET call would be very beneficial to boost the field to the next level of maturity.

• Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?
No. A FET call would be unique and very much welcome.

• What is needed at this point to advance this?
What is needed to advance at this point is support of multidisciplinary research. Evaluation panels and referees should be carefully chosen to include representatives of all relevant disciplines. Involvement of industry should be stimulated, but not made compulsory.

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Roberto Pini's picture

The combination of pulsed and CW near-infrared laser light with plasmonic particles such as gold nanorods is gaining relevance for the photoacoustic imaging and photothermal ablation of cancer. Selective targeting of malignant cells with these contrast agents may rely on complementary biochemical and biological strategies, including the use of specific probes or the exploitation of cellular vehicles.

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Roberto Pini's picture

The advent of optical nanoprobes for the quantitative determination of bioanalytes at the intracellular level is one of the most fascinating achievements in the field of nanoparticle and nanomaterial technology. Among this, oligonucleotide optical switches can work not only as nanoprobes but also as drugs capable to address specific RNA messengers thus preventing the overexpression of proteins associated with pathologic diseases.

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Roberto Pini's picture

Optical microresonators are an efficient tool for the realisation of optical biochemical sensors, based on the measurement of the refractive index changes induced by the interaction of the investigated analyte with a selective layer immobilised on the microresonator surface.

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