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CARDIOSENSOR - Nanosensor for assessing the risk of a Cardiovascular Disease Risk Nanosensor
CESAM Responsible researcher - Teresa Rocha Santos
Programme - PTDC/SAU-BEB/099042/2008
Execution dates - 2010-04-01 - 2013-03-31 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 37200 €
Total Funding - 170000 €
Proponent Institution - Instituto Piaget
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro
Hospital de São João, Porto

In Portugal the cardiovascular diseases namely cerebrovascular and ischemic heart diseases are the main cause of death, and the third and fourth causes of paralysis (Portuguese National Health Plan) [1]. The Portuguese National Program of Prevention and Control of Cardiovascular Diseases [2] defined strategies and identified needs of instruments able to assess the risk associated to the occurrence of a cardiovascular accident (CVA) besides seting up a network able to provide to health care facilities specifically associated to prevent and decrease the level of CVA. The risk of cardiovascular disease may be assessed testing C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the blood [3-7]. The C-reactive protein is one of the acute phase proteins that increase during inflammation. High levels of CRP consistently predict recurrent coronary events in patients with unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). Higher CRP levels also are associated with lower survival rates in these patients [8-11] and included it is estimated that his magnitude is synonymous of certain scenario for the patient [7]: i) if hs-CRP level is lower than 1.0 mg/L, a person has a low risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ii) if hs-CRP is between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L, a person has an average risk and, iii) if hs-CRP is higher than 3.0 mg/L, a person is at high risk. Several studies [8-11] have examined whether CRP can predict cardiovascular disease, stroke and death in different settings. Until nowadays, to detect active inflammation and infection, CRP is measured on blood using immunoturbidimetric, immunoelectrophoretic assays, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or immunofluorescent assay [12]. Although, these assays are invasive techniques of evaluation the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  This project aims at developing a novel approach for diagnosis of cardiovascular risk disease based on a transducer array made of carbon nanotubes for the selective and sensitive analysis of C-reactive protein in blood and saliva. This non-invasive analytical methodology is a very low time consuming technique, it does not require any sample pre-treatment prior to analysis, it can provide immediate results "in situ" and therefore it will increase the capacity of diagnostics in real time and consequently it will contribute to improve the quality of health care systems. In the first phase of the project, the nanosensor will be assembled, tested and optimised for standard solutions. The nanosensor will be constituted by a transducer array made of single-wall carbon nanotubes on a complementary metal oxide semiconductor silicon substrate and chemical recognition layers or coatings that increase the transducer´s sensitivity and selectivity to the target analytes. The nanosensor will be applied to the detection of C-reactive protein in synthetic samples and the results compared with the ones obtained with ELISA assay. Secondly, the nanosensor will be applied to real clinical samples (human blood and saliva) and the results will also be validated using ELISA assay. The human samples will be blood and saliva either from healthy subjects or patients suffering from different diseases which likely affect C-reactive protein. The results obtained for saliva will be tested against blood in order to identify if C-reactive protein in saliva gave valuable information for cardiovascular risk disease and to validate the nanosensor as a non-invasive technique. Thirdly the nanosensor will be adjusted to a prototype and tested with real samples. This project will be developed by a research team constructed around the project with an established experience in the field of the development of chemical sensors for environmental and food applications and more recently for clinical diagnostics. The project application to samples from patients will be accomplished by the research team members who are health professionals.

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