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LiPhos Project Description and Objectives

From a photonic point of view, a cell culture or a tissue sample can be considered as a biomaterial with unique optical properties (spectral response, refractive index, etc.) which arise from its constituent elements i.e. the cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix. The idea behind LiPhos is to exploit these characteristics to develop the new generation of biophotonic diagnosis tools (BDT). Concretely, the primary scientific objective in this project is the development of biophotonic systems in which cells are for the very first time used for defining the core of the waveguide, giving rise to the “Living Photonics" concept. That is, light will be coupled and confined within a cell culture or sheet of freshly isolated cells so that they can be continuously interrogated. Hence, the cells will form the photonic system and will play the dual role of transducer and reporter element. The BDT will consist of living photonics systems coupled to auxiliary polymer/semiconductor micro-optical/integrated optic elements. Measurement protocols will consist of the determination of the Photonic Fingerprint (PIN) of the biological system under study. We understand this concept as the spectral response of living photonics, considering the different inherent or acquired bands and peaks (scattering, absorbance and/or fluorescence) present in the spectra. Each cell type, in a given state and under identical experimental conditions, should present a unique and identifiable PIN (reproducible spectral response). Moreover, healthy and non-healthy living photonics of the same cell type will present different PINs. Comparison of these PINs using confidence margins previously established by the consortium will provide accurate diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). To our knowledge, no one has ever attempted to either harness the optical properties of living cells or use them for diagnosis in the way LiPhos proposes to do.

Pre-clinical validation of the developed photonic system for diagnosing endothelial dysfunction, smooth muscle cell activation and alterations in macrophages under different pathologic conditions will be performed during the course of the project.

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