Research

We are interested in developing new biosensing platforms for the detection of a wide variety of biomolecules, ranging from small molecules, to proteins, and even to large cells.

We focus on two specific areas:

  1. design of synthetic receptors for biomolecules of interest
  2. thermal detection methods to measure these biomolecules in biological samples

In terms of designing synthetic receptors, Dr. Peeters has worked on polymeric receptors (Molecularly Imprinted Polymers) and DNA sensors (aptamers). With MIPs, her main focus has been on neurotransmitters, such as histamine, L-nicotine, serotonin, dopamine, and recent work on noradrenaline. In the future, this will be extended to work with cells and bacteria. DNA sensors were employed to detect peanut proteins, which is used for allergen screening in food samples.

Dr. Peeters has done extensive work on the use of the heat-transfer method (HTM) to detect neurotransmitters and proteins (4 patents available, see publication section). In recent work, a collaboration between MMU and Maastricht Science Programme, a novel thermal detection method was reported.  This method, which we call thermal wave transport analysis (TWTA), focuses on the transport of thermal waves rather than keeping the temperature at a fixed value. Advantages include faster measurement time (<3 min), more straightforward analysis and increased signal-to-noise ratio. By significantly reducing the noise, it becomes possible to measure in complex samples. To demonstrate proof-of-application, spiked dopamine samples in banana fluid were measured. Results can be found at the special issue of Molecules on Nanozymes and Beyond(http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/21/5/552).

Current collaborators include:

-MMU: Prof. Banks, Dr. Maciá-Ruiz

-University of Antwerp (Belgium): Prof. Karolien de Wael (Erasmus mobility in March 2017 and guest lecture in March 2018)

-KU Leuven (Belgium): Prof. Wagner

-Maastricht Science Programme (The Netherlands): Prof. Cleij, Dr. van Grinsven, Dr. Eersels

-Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil): Prof Gruber, RSC research mobility March 2018