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Development of LAMP assay for respiratory tract infection pathogens - Belgium  

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Posted on : 15 April 2017

Project Description

  • Infectious diseases are a major burden to public health and the global economy, not in the least due to antimicrobial resistance. 
  • Rapid point of care (POC) in vitro diagnostics (IVD) are key tools in the effective clinical management of patients with infectious diseases. 
  • Yet there is still a large unmet clinical need for more rapid POC IVDs generating more clinically relevant, actionable information. 
  • Effectively addressing this need requires a change in the current approach in training researchers on IVDs, generating a new 'breed' of IVD researchers capable of closing the gap between the clinical and technological perspective. 
  • EU H2020 project "New diagnostics for infectious diseases (ND4ID)" takes up this challenge by offering 15 early stage researchers (ESRs) a world-class training programme where they will be exposed to disciplines spanning clinical, technological and market-oriented view points, from both the academic and non-academic sector. 
  • As such, ND4ID will deliver ESRs that will be in high demand serving as an example for other academic and non-academic actors active in training IVD researchers and further strengthening Europe's position in the internally competitive arena of IVD technology.
  • As one of the partners in this EU project, we are looking for a PhD student who will be working on the topic of community acquired respiratory tract infections (RTI) and development of ultra sensitive bio assays for detecting RTI-related viruses and bacteria. 
  • The greatest clinical need for the physician in RTI is  to be able to rapidly distinguish patients presenting with viral RTI from those with bacterial RTI. 
  • Although the majority of community acquired RTI is of viral origin (estimated at 70%), physicians currently empirically prescribe antibiotics leading to their vast over-prescription.
  •  Viruses, as opposed to bacteria, not always have dsDNA, making the development of a nucleic acid based assay challenging, and making it too expensive for systematic use in primary care settings. Proteins provide an excellent alternative target, attainable by antibody-based tests. 
  • Those tests do not require target amplification, making them inherently fast, another important criterion for primary care settings.
  •  In addition, multiplexed antibody-based tests allow the inclusion of biomarkers for infection aiding to differentiate colonization from infection.
  • ESR hired on this project will address these clinical needs and technological challenges by working on the development of isothermal LAMP bioassay on a lateral flow device with sensitive but low-cost readout, developed within the project by another project partner. More specifically, this ESR will work on:
    • Development of singleplex and multiplex LAMP assays on standard qPCR instrument for detection of 4 pathogens selected as model organisms, being 2 viruses: Influenza virus and Respiratory Syncytial virus (RSV) and 2 bacteria species: Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza
    • Exploration of CMOS detectors as readout systems developed by NXP company, where ESR4 is expected to perform part of his/her research stay
    • Development of labelling strategies for the LAMP products, enabling CMOS-based readout
    • Integration of LAMP assay with the lateral flow device, developed by KTH partner 

A PhD candidate should fulfil the following requirements
  • Candidates must be, at the time of recruitment, in the first four years  (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree 
  • Mobility rule: at the time of recruitment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their   main activity (work, studies, etc) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date 
  • Candidate must have a  Master degree cum laude (> 70%) in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical  Sciences, Biosciences or equivale
  • Previous experience in DNA/RNA work and development of molecular bioassays will be considered as a strong asset  
  • Candidates are highly  motivated to do research in dynamic environment and as part of this unique  EU training program 
  • Candidates are communicative, creative, eager to learn and able to work independently as  well as part of the team 
  • Strong and proven knowledge  of the English language is a must 
  • Willingness to travel  

  • A PhD candidate will be offered an unique opportunity to pursue the research in extremely dynamic and international MeBioS-Biosensor group at European renowned university as well as to become part of the world-class European training program on new diagnostics for infectious diseases.
  • Majority of his/her PhD research will be performed in the MeBioS-Biosensor group. 
  • As part of the project training program and PhD, ESR will spend few months at the NXP company  and at KTH.