Nanoparticles and Sensors in Diagnostics - Professor Jason Davis

Professor Jason Davis is the Senior Tutor in Chemistry and a Dr Lee’s Reader in Chemistry at Christ Church, tutoring in Inorganic Chemistry. His research interests are broad and primarily focussed on the design and utilisation of Advanced Functional Interfaces, particularly those associated with Diagnostics, Sensing, Molecular Switches/Molecular Machines and Imaging -

Schematic representation of environmentally responsive inorganic-organic nanoparticle hybrids for diagnostically-relevant MRI imaging.During the past 15 years there has been an explosion of interest in developing nanoparticle systems capable of delivering biological therapy and/or supporting the development of imaging contrast (theranostics). One significant part of this has been an attempt to increase the signal:noise in magnetic resonance imaging and, better still, to generate contrast systems that give specific biological information (such as local pH).  His research group have developed nanoparticle systems that have a very controllable interaction with live cells (Chemistry-A European Journal, 2013, 19, 17891) and paramagnetically doped biocompatible nanoparticle systems that exhibit unprecedented levels of MRI positive contrast, (J. Materials Chemistry, 2012, 22, 22848; Chemical Communications, 2013, 49, 1, 60; Chemical Communications, 2019, 55, 8540). Through the integration of environmentally responsive nanoparticle coatings, the team have engineered this contrast to be reportive of particle local environment; nanoparticles such as these present an ability to not only support the sensitive medical imaging of localised diseased tissue but also the concurrent delivery of therapy.

Schematic representation of a biomarker responsive antibody-polymer electrode interface. Such surface are designed to proSchematic representation of a biomarker responsive antibody-polymer electrode interface. Such surface are designed to produce calibratable responses to specific protein markers.duce calibratable responses to specific protein markers.For the past decade or so, his group have been developing tools by which “marker proteins” present in the body can be isolated and quantified using electrical methods. This is a key part of what is called the “liquid biopsy”; it is undoubtedly the case that much of the future of healthcare will be dependent on how diagnostic assays can be scaled up, made available at the “point of care” and integrated into much earlier intervention. Electrochemical methods offer much here in that they are natively very sensitive, “electronic” (rather than optical) and can be readily integrated into multiplex and fluidic formats. His research team, during the past ten years or so, have developed a range of new electroanalytical tools, especially those based on capacitance and impedance. A major challenge, in seeking to detect a specific marker(s) is an ability for your assay to exhibit extreme levels of selectivity. The group have developed methods that enable this (Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2013, 39, 21; Anal. Chem., 2014, 86 (11), 5553; Analytical Chemistry, 2015, 87, 346; Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2015, 71, 51) and have thereafter shown that these can be combined with new detection methodologies to underpin clinically relevant detection of protein, autoantibody and exosomal markers (Chemical Science, 2012, 3, 3468; RSC Advances, 2014, 4, 58773; Analytical Chemistry, 2015, 87, 944; Analytical Chemistry, 2015, 87, 346; Analytical Chemistry, 2017, 89, 3184; Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2018, 100, 519;  J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2020, 91, 720; Analytical Chemistry, 2020, 92 (5), 3508; Analytical Chemistry, 2020, 92, 13647; Biosens. Bioelec. 2021, 172, 112705; Analytical Chemistry 2020, 92, 4707). This work has involved the development of new surface chemical protocols and analytical protocols, some of this generating intellectual property that underpinned the establishment of a UK based diagnostic company that now employs ~100 people in central Oxford (Osler Diagnostics; one of the most successful university spin outs of recent years). His group work with a number of clinical teams from across the world, most notably those engaged in the early detection of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and Parkinson’s.