Interview with partners


Johan Roeraade is meeting us at his office in the campus of Kungliga Tekniske Högskolan, KTH, on one of the last days of summer in Stockholm 2015. His staff is hard at work in the clinical laboratories close by. At KTH, Professor Johan Roeraade works with mass spectrometry, an analytical chemistry technique to help identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample, in this case blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

-  “We have installed a new, state of the art mass spectrometer, the Ultraflextreme from Bruker, which is a special donation from KTH”, says Johan. The mass spectrometer has an improved resolution and a fast repetition laser, which has resulted in a faster analysis. Additionally, this instrument has much improved software compared to its predecessor and an MS/MS capability, which will facilitate the identification of unknown constituents.

- “Our biggest success has been that we were able to increase the sensitivity of MALDI-TOF-MS by a factor 1000, due to the development of miniaturized sample targets and a novel sample deposition method,” Johan explains. - “We’re satisfied with this, as our original success criteria were that we would be able to achieve our anticipated goal, i.e., the detection of biomarkers to distinguish Alzheimer patients from non-Alzheimer patients.”

As most of the other partners, Johan has welcomed the chance to work with scientists from all over the European continent. - “The findings at KTH were thought to be a backup, a technique where we could validate the other findings. We reached that goal after month 30. Our task was finished, and we could detect the biomarkers in blood. However, at this point, it was decided that we would continue working on this, alongside the work being done in Barcelona and Milan,” Johan finishes.


Instituto di Chimica del RicOnoscimento Moleculare (ICRM-CNR) - ITALY

At the other end of the European continent, Marcella Chiari of Instituto di Chimica del Riconoscimento Moleculare in Milan in Italy has been working on the NaDiNe Project for the past five years and she also feels it has been a successful journey.

-“Scientifically, we have been able to extend the applicability of the microarray approach we have developed to the new field of Alzheimer's disease detection,” Marcella says at the end of the project and continues:

- “NaDiNe will in fact provide the scientific community, the in-vitro diagnostics industry, and the clinical diagnostic laboratories, with a new, state-of-the-art, robust and user-friendly analytical platform for detection of biomarkers. The detection and analysis platform developed in NaDiNe will allow for more precise and earlier diagnosis, which will help to initiate treatment before a disease becomes clinically apparent and thus alter curative medicine into preventive medicine.”

- “Our results have been published in seven articles in peer-reviewed journals, 12 communication platforms at international conferences and disseminated at internal and external seminars, in master and PhD classes at universities. We also had one Master’s Thesis at Università degli Studi di Milano, so we are satisfied with that,” Marcella smiles.

At the upstart of the NaDiNe project, the tasks of Marcella and her team were to check the quality of the reagents used for the assays with the microarray platform, using the surface chemistry developed at CNR, The Italian National Research Council.

- “As a separate task, we were asked to develop a suitable surface chemistry to modify the properties of microfluidic devices developed by other partners of the consortium,” Marcella points out. “We do find that we met the criteria of the task, as the microarray technology we have proposed was able to detect one of the identified biomarkers with the proper sensitivity. Therefore, our technology was selected among other approaches for the final validation stage. Also, for the separate task, we established collaborations with several partners such as DTU, Institute Curie and Université Paris Sud that have used CNR surface modification approaches in their devices,” explains Marcella. - “Working together in a European project brings researchers with complementary competences in contact, which is a great advantage,” Marcella concludes.


Moravian-Biotechnology spol. s r. o. – czeck republic

Borivoj Vojtesek and Rudolf Nenutil of Moravian-Biotechnology spol. s r. o. in the Czech Republic have also been hard at work and it has been fruitful.

“Within the NADINE project, we developed a set of different monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal sera for partners, as well as new technology for purification of some of these polyclonal antibodies. Our success criteria were to be able to develop good antibodies to 50% of the target proteins or peptides that would work in different methodological approaches. We have met these criteria and even got more results than we expected,” they inform us via email.

They have also considered the advantages of working in projects like NaDiNe:

- “For small biotech companies working on the EU funded budget helps get more connection with basic or applied science and also helps create new jobs that can be kept after the end of the project if people employed are of high standard. The critical point is also the connection with new customers who came from this consortia funded by the EU.”


DIAGNOSWISS - switzerland

A bit south of the Czech Republic, Priscille Giron of DiagnoSwiss, located in Monthey in Switzerland, echoes these sentiments:

- “Our biggest success has been the finalization of our ImmuDrop and ImmuSpeed systems and their validation for clinical use with the Abeta 1-42 assay in a reproducible manner and with low limits of detection,” she explains. Furthermore, she elaborates: “We were to verify the feasibility of our approach to a clinical question and we actually ended up with more success than we initially expected. One of the biggest advantages of NaDiNe has been to share the knowledge and expertise of each partner. It accelerates the research notably.”



Back in the northern regions of Europe, Sanna-Kaisa Herukka of Ita-Suomen Yliopisto (UEF – University of Eastern Finland) also stresses the importance of the networking that NaDiNe has set up.

- “Networking with new high-quality partners has been important - in the case of NaDiNe, there were for example clinical partners and technical partners with their expertises very different from ours. We were able to increase a number of high quality samples in our research biobank. We have published several publications during the project and some publications are still under preparation,” Sanna-Kaisa tells us.

- “We have collected a new sample set and we have sent samples for analysis to several technical partners. The part with testing a stand-alone device provided by technical partners did not happen as the demonstrator was not finished in time, but different methods were still tested on our samples in different laboratories by technical partners,” she recaps.



Hans Klafki of the UMG/UKES, the Universitätsklinikum situated in Essen in Germany is enthusiastic about the collaborations in NaDiNe:

- “The interactions and collaborations between specific partners within the NaDiNe consortiums were highly productive and fruitful as is evidenced by a number of publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals related to the NaDiNe project. We are confident that many of the collaborations and contacts between the different partners will be continued in future projects.”

-“ As a clinical partner, we were expecting to gain insight into novel technologies and specifically the application of nanofluidics to questions related to biomarker research and discovery in the field of neurodegenerative disorders. This succeded to a large extent. Although the originally anticipated goal to develop a fully integrated nanofluidic device for measuring patterns of novel biomarkers was not reached, we believe that the NADINE project has been very fruitful,” Hans Klafki sums up.


Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) – SPAIN

Prof. Arben Merkoçi of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) in Barcelona in Spain is also one of the technological partners in NaDiNe.

- “When we entered the project, our expectations were focused on the achievement of point-of-care sensing systems for the sensitive detection of neurodegenerative diseases biomarkers, with the aim of offering an advantageous tool for early diagnostics, as alternative to the methods used in hospitals. We have successfully developed innovative sensing systems for the point-of-care detection of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers (ApoE and b-amyloid proteins) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), serum and plasma samples, taking advantage of novel properties of nanoparticles (optical and electrocatalytical) that have also been explored along this project. This has been achieved thanks to the strong collaboration with the partners of the project, especially with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in Prague and the University of Ulm in Germany,” he informs.