Project outline

Personalized medicine and early diagnostics are two main drivers of biomedical technology development. Both require highly sensitive detection methods, preferably in combination with a short analysis time. The development of new sensing technologies, miniaturization and parallelization are key steps to achieve these goals. BioMEANDER contributes to addressing these challenges. In the project an extremely sensitive biological detection platform is developed, using Surfix’s material-selective surface modification technology. Besides developing the platform itself, two application examples are elaborated:

  • Discovery of small molecule therapeutics – there is a large need for the development of new, better and cheaper medicines for (different types of) cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. One of the challenges for the pharmaceutical industry and the BioMeander project is finding alternatives for currently used antibody therapies, which are very expensive. This requires the screening of large numbers of compounds, mainly small molecules, for their efficacy as a therapeutic agent.

  • Detection of influenza virus – every year millions of people get seriously ill from influenza infection, and hundreds of thousands die. The annual costs related to influenza epidemics are estimated to exceed 100 billion euros. Improved methods for detecting and classifying influenza viruses are required for two main purposes:
    • screening of patients to determine virus type and infectiveness
    • development of antiviral drugs


The developed detection platform is based on an integrated optical biosensor using Si3N4/SiO2 waveguide technology. Different sensor designs can be made based on this technology, including microring resonators (MRR) and Mach-Zehnder interferometers (MZI). Recently, it was found that introducing an asymmetry between the two arms of an MZI improves the sensitivity of the device. In BioMeander, the design of the asymmetric MZI will be optimized for maximum sensor performance.

To further enhance the sensitivity and limit of detection, Surfix’s nanocoatings will be used for material selective (bio)functionalization of the aMZI biosensor. Application-specific nanocoatings are developed to optimize the coating properties to obtain the best results for the two application examples, discovery of small molecule therapeutics and detection of influenza virus.