Research in Biotechnology
The research of the biotechnology unit focuses on of molecular biotechnology and novel in vitro diagnostic methods. We study and develop new analytical applications of novel bioaffinity assays, label technologies, inventive assay systems, recombinant proteins and genetically engineered antibodies. These are applied on diverse topics from human health to food and the natural environment. We develop new, rapid and effective in vitro diagnostic systems and assay concepts utilizing immunochemistry and nucleic acid hybridization. New analytes that can be used to determine various pathological conditions in a clinical setting are a main research interest. An important long-term goal is to use our results to support the diagnostic industry, particularly in Finland.
Research focus areas in biotechnology
Clinical diagnostics is the main application area of the diagnostic technologies being developed at the biotechnology unit. Advancements of other focus areas, such as novel label technologies, tailored binder molecules and innovative assay setups, are studied and validated with biomarkers of various clinical settings with special emphasis on cancer, cardiac diseases and infectious diseases.
Active research is conducted on exploring and investigating novel biomarkers including traditional biomarkers in different forms and with altered post-translational modifications. For example, glycovariants of cancer biomarkers are in the current focus of studies to enable better diagnostics and monitoring especially for ovarian, prostate and breast cancer.
The aim of the research to respond to the new challenges of in vitro -assays by means of supporting development of simple high-performance assay technologies. Research is concentrated on luminescence-based label technologies and assay technologies. Especially applying of luminescent lanthanide compouds up-converting nanochrystals in diagnostic applications is focused. In addition to label technologies, novel homogenous assay technologies and specific lanthanide labels and molecular binders are under research.
Novel luminescent label technologies are under research and development in the laboratory of bio-organic chemistry. The labels can be utilized in various biochemical applications. Currently the research is concentrated on two focus areas: novel, highly luminescent labels of high stability and lanthanide chelate luminescence modulation based 'on-off'-switches.
The research group is specialized in production of binder proteins by means of genetic engineering. Our special know-how is to produce tailor-made recombinant antibodies for the needs of bioanalytical applications.
The goal of the research is to develop rapid and easy diagnostic methods (mostly immunoassays and nucleic acid assays) that can be applied for example to near-patient- or environmental on-site diagnostics. The research has especially been focused on infectious diseases with lateral-flow type approaches and highly sensitive point-of-care detection of cardiac markers, but also on the development of applicable assay technologies.
The nucleic acid diagnostics research projects aim to to develop homogenous nucleic acid assays and simple pretreatment methods for biological sample materials, particularly for pathogenic bacteria.
Environmental and food diagnostics concentrates on improving currently available methods and on developing new bioaffinity-based assays to detect detrimental and toxic compounds and their producers in food and the natural environment. Water quality is a specific focus area, and detection methods for toxin-producing cyanobacteria are actively developed.