To unravel cell complexity, living-cell chips have been developed that allow delivery of experimental stimuli but also measurement of the resulting cellular responses. We have been developing a new concept for multiplexed detection of biomolecules secreted by different cancer cells. In the present report, we are making the proof of concept of cell small populations (from 1 to 100 cells) spotting, culture and secretion detection on a gold surface. For that purpose, antibodies and different cell lines were spotted using a piezoelectric spotter. In order to keep the cells in a hydrated environment during the robotized micropipetting and to address different cell lines on a single chip, a biocompatible alginate polymer was used. This approach enables the encapsulation of the cell in a very small volume (30 nL), directly on the substrate and permits a precise control of the number of cells in each alginate bead. After 24h of culture, the adherent cells are ready for surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) experimentation. To enable the detection of secreted proteins, various antibodies are immobilized in an organized manner on a SPRi sensor and permitted the multiplex detection of different proteins secreted by the different cultured cell lines. Evidence of the real-time detection will be presented for Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and β-2-microglobulin (B2M) secreted by prostate cancer cells following induction by dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Different kinetics for the two secreted proteins were then demonstrated and precisely determined using the chip. There is no doubt that our chip will, in a near future, be applied to more multiplexed and complex biological secretion systems for which kinetic data are at the moment not reachable using standard cellular biology tools.
In the framework of RAMBO (Rapid-Air Monitoring particle against biological threats) project of the European Defense
Agency (EDA), the feasibility of an unattended Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) sensor for biological
threats detection was investigated. Its main goal concern Bacillus anthrax detection, both as vegetative cells and
endospores. However since such bacteria are classified in Risk Group 3 (very dangerous microorganism), Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus atrophaeus were used as simulants. In order to bind selectively the target bacilli, Phages properly selected were immobilized on an active commercially
available SERS substrate (functionalization). The Phages are a type of virus that infect selectively, by means of
receptors, specific bacteria. Moreover they can resist on water or air environments without losing their binding
capabilities. The sensing surface was characterized by standard micro-Raman equipments to assess the background
Raman features. The Raman measurements have been carried out from 10X to 100X of magnification to differentiate between average and local features. Moreover the fast response was acquired by limiting the measure time at less than 1 minute. Samples of vegetative cells and endospores of Bacilli were randomly dispersed on the functionalized SERS
The results obtained are promising: samples with and without bacilli could be distinguished one from the other. This is a
step toward the use of SERS as an effective and fast technique for early warning of biological threats.