Debora Albuquerque – AIM Fellow 2018

foto Débora Albuquerque 2018

Débora Albuquerque has an integrated Master’s degree in Biological Engineering from Instituto Superior Técnico (2012-2017). In 2018 was a research fellow at INESC-MN, with a secondment to IMG-PHARMA, focused on magnetoresistive quantification of cancer biomarkers.

Her PD-FCT AIM project is entitled: “Self-sufficient Point-of-care Platform for Diagnosis of Tropical Diseases”.The project will be conducted in collaboration between INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias (INESC-MN), International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) and Instituto Nacional de Saúde Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA). The thesis is supervised by Susana Cardoso (INESC-MN and Department of Physics of Técnico) and co-supervised by Verónica Romão (INESC-MN and Magnomics) and Elisabete Fernandes (INL). Her doctoral program started on September 1st 2018.

This project aims to fulfill the gap for diagnostics tests to be used in low- and middle-income countries against neglected tropical diseases (e.g. Zika, dengue or chikungunya). The traditional diagnostic tests are complex, expensive, require specialized training and fully equipped laboratories and rely on two different clinical methods: molecular tests of viral RNA (acute infection phase), or on the host humoral immune-response (advanced infection phase).

The goal of this project is to develop a device capable of performing both nucleic acid and protein assays (hybrid-assay) simultaneously in a multiplexed format for different sets of diseases. For this, a microfluidic cartridge with two parallel paths will be developed, one for protein (anti-virus antibodies) purification and other for viral RNA extraction. Finally, the detection of the biological targets will be achieved by resorting to magnetoresistive (MR)-based sensors coupled with biorecognition strategies and labelling procedures. The MR-biochip platform already developed at INESC-MN and INESC-ID will be used as a good alternative to the traditional methods, overcoming some of their pitfalls.