Our group seeks to develop biosensors and ‘smart’ materials based on DNA aptamers. Projects in our lab draw on inorganic, organic, materials, and nucleic acids chemistry. Several main research themes are outlined below.

Aptamer Based Polyelectrolyte Thin Films for “Smart” Materials

Our research explores strategies for the controlled release of a molecular target through nanoscale aptamer-polyelectrolyte multilayer films and microcapsules. We are investigating innovative approaches to trigger the release of a model compound by exploiting the binding affinity and selectivity of aptamers, as well as their ability to change shape upon target binding

Biosensors

Novel chemically-modified oligonucleotides are being examined for use in electrochemical and optical biosensors. Substrates such as gold and glassy carbon electrodes, as well as gold-coated tilted fiber bragg gratings (in collaboration with Dr. Jacques Albert: DOE, Carleton University) are being investigated.

In vivo Aptamer Applications

Results from our development of a dopamine aptamer have launched a collaboration with Dr. Matthew Holahan (Neuroscience, Carleton University) where we are exploring its effects in the brains of animal models. Our recent PLoS ONE paper describes our exciting results and is the first study reporting on the effects of an aptamer in the brain.

New Aptamers

New aptamers for important targets are also being developed. Targets include neurotransmitters, viruses, disease biomarkers, and toxins.