The ability to adopt specific functions in response to external stimuli from the environment in time and space is a unique feature of biological design. Ligands (senders) and receptors (receivers) for inter-cellular communication play a key-role in the cell-signaling machinery. The signaling mechanisms triggered by ligand-receptor interactions from the physical environment are key aspects in the control of cell functions that ultimately determine the organization of life itself.
The Notch signaling mechanism provide a unique opportunity for active material-based control of cell function. Notch is activated through interaction between ligands and receptors on neighboring cells or on the substrate, thereby activating Notch target genes that control the cell function. In this project we will design and functionalize charged peptides in thin organic and large-area electronic devices for spatiotemporal sensing and control of Notch activation in stem cells. This will be achieved by developing a solid-state electrical detection platform based on our unique BIOFET concept, into which we will incorporate specially designed charged peptides mimicking Notch ligands. The BIOFET has the advantage of acting as a sensing devices for ligand-receptor interactions as well as a tool to achieve Notch activation on demand.
The consortium provides a new technology platform in addition to state-of-the art genetic model systems and standard cell cultures for tissue regeneration. Furthermore, the potential for intellectual property generation and technology transfer is also substantial spanning from new diagnostic tools to fundamental discoveries in stem cell regeneration. The socio-economic impact can be enormous spanning from point-of-care diagnostics, to rapid screening of infections as well as from in-field-deployed monitoring of epidemics to in-vitro screening of biological drugs.
In this project we will create a platform for controlling cell functions in time and space. To control cell function on demand, would be very important for tissue regeneration, but is not possible at the moment. By utilizing a novel bio-electronic sensor, where the functionalized electrode can act both as a sensing but also controlling device, we envision control of cell function in time and space.