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The use of extracellular vesicle (EV) detection strategies for highly sensitive point-of-caresystems and liquidbiopsy has shown great potential to gain further insights into human disease diagnostics. One major challenge ofEV-baseddiagnostics is the small scale of the carrier, limiting light-baseddetection and analysis methods. Thislimitation further results in low sample throughput and low specificity regarding EV-baseddetection of diseasemarkers.

One way to overcome these challenges is to combine EV extraction methods with magnetic trappingsystems such as magnetic micropores, magnetic gradient devices, or localized magnetic traps. This project aimsto develop a rapid in situ on-chipEV size profiling assay using the concept of magnetic traps. In this project theMONT Empower Scholar will prototype the design of an EV trapping assay on chip using computer-aideddesign(CAD) software with finite-elementsimulations (FEM, COMSOL Multiphysics).

After the design step, the scholarwill learn cleanroom-basedfabrication of magnetic trapping features that can be utilized as a proof of concept.This project involves learning how to fabricate small magnetic features, how to capture even smaller lipidstructures from conditioned cell culture fluids. Throughout the project, the student will be exposed to cutting-edgemethods for extracellular vesicle-baseddetection methods, which are used to detect neurodegenerativedisease markers.

If a successful prototype emerges from the student work, the chip can be used to detect, sort,and analyze EVs carrying hallmarks of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, thestudent will be embedded in a vibrant lab dynamic in the Kunze Neuroengineering Lab, consisting of severalgraduate and undergraduate students.

Besides a unique interest in microand nanofabrication technology,strong communication skills, weekly participation in lab meetings, as well as team-workingattitudes, areexpected. At the end of the project, the student will have gone through the design approach for point-of-caresystems using microand nanotechnology in the sector of neurodegenerative diseases.

It is recommended tocombine this project with taking the BioMEMS course in the ECE Department during the junior year. This projectcan be further developed into an ECE CAPSTONE project. The student may also use a successful prototype as astarting point for entrepreneurship in the point-of-careor human disease diagnostics sector.

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To learn more, please contact Dr. Anja Kunze.