The French National Research Agency Projects for science

Voir cette page en français

ANR funded project

Stimuler le renouveau industriel (DS03) 2017


The generation of NOVEL MATERIALS TO HARNESS THE POWER OF BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS as primary sensors is extremely attractive: rapid cellular signal treatment and amplification by cellular algorithms provides high specificity and sensitivity. ELECTRICAL ACTIVITIES FORM THE BASE OF KEY EVENTS such as brain activity, heart beat or hormone secretion and can be connected to command lines for actuators. Signals are precisely shaped over time via the in- and outflow of distinct ion species through specific plasma membrane channels.
Development of HUMAN “ORGAN-ON-CHIP” DEVICES provides unique opportunities for drug screening and diagnostics on patient derived stem cells. Growth of the global Organ-On-Chip market is impeded by capturing probe/gene free “native” signals for small sample and analyte volumes. Electrophysiology could provide a very appealing solution. However, whereas imaging has gone through a revolution, electrophysiology has not evolved to the same level. Characterizing electrical activity remains complex due to expensive equipment and demanding technicity. Probe-free techniques resolving single action potentials and grouped electrical activity could bring electrophysiology to non-specialized laboratories.
FLEXIBLE ORGANIC ELECTRONICS is particularly suited for interfacing with tissues/cells as ORGANIC ELECTROCHEMICAL TRANSISTOR (OECT). Their mixed electronic/ionic conductivity decreases impedance with richer electrical recordings and local signal amplification with unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio. This should allow use not only in neuronal or cardiac cells, but also in other excitable cells with notoriously small signal amplitude, but known to be excellent sensors and involved in important chronic diseases (islet B-cells, vascular cells, eg.).
RENDERING OECTS SPECIFIC FOR DISTINCT IONS would greatly improve analytical power as did different fluorescent protein “colors” for imaging. However, existing “ion-selective electrodes” are combinations of ion selective membranes and conducting polymers. They do not combine metal ion sensing AND electronic transduction, which would increase specificity, detection limits and printability for large scale production.

WE THEREFORE PROPOSE, based also on preliminary results (i) to develop MULTIMODAL ION-SENSING POLYMERS as well as ION-SENSING POLYMER NANOSTRUCTURES, (ii) to ENGINEER OECT ARRAYS as disposable, non-invasive devices for detection of electrical cell activity and specific ion fluxes, (iii) to DEMONSTRATE THEIR POTENTIAL IN MULTIMODAL MICRO-ORGAN RECORDING of electrical cell activity and specific ion fluxes
To this end we have assembled 4 ACADEMIC PARTNERS that have in part collaborated previously and have the expertise in electro-organic polymer chemistry, nanostructuration, biophysics and OECT device assembly or electrophysiology as well as 2 INDUSTRIAL/TRANSFER PARTNERS with expertise in chemistry scale-up or printed organic electronics.
The project contains 3 work packages: SPECIFIC POLYMER SYNTHESIS, DEVICE ASSEMBLY, MICRO-ORGAN RECORDINGS and PARALLEL SCALE UP & TRANSFER. We start synthesizing ion specific conducting polymers for K+, Na+, and Zn2+, followed by nanostructuration or electronic printing. Ion-specific recording will be performed on islet b-cells as suitable biological substrate. The industrial partners are fully incorporated by parallel scale up & transfer. Feedback loops are installed and contingency plans established.

The novel polymers are PATENTABLE and the proposed device will set NEW INDUSTRY STANDARDS for ION CHANNEL TESTING by its high information content and low handling technicity. In the same vein it will bring a highly discriminative sensor to “ORGANS-ON-CHIP”. The developed technology will definitively be of high interest for IMPROVED BIOSENSORS coupling multi-parametric analytical power and sensitivity of biological cells/micro-organs. The opening to other domains of PRINTED ELECTRONICS is of great interest for the industrial partners.


CBMN Chimie et Biologie des Membranes et des Nanoobjets

EMSE École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne

ISM Institut des Sciences Moléculaires


LCPO Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques

ANR grant: 549 241 euros
Beginning and duration: octobre 2017 - 42 mois


ANR Programme: Stimuler le renouveau industriel (DS03) 2017

Project ID: ANR-17-CE09-0015

Project coordinator:
Monsieur JOCHEN LANG (Chimie et Biologie des Membranes et des Nanoobjets)


Back to the previous page


The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.