Expertise and General Research Interests

Bioelectrochemistry

Investigation of medically relevant molecules and cellular features to understand and manipulate their interactions by electrochemistry 

Instrument Design and Development

Developing and advancing technologies for the quantitative analysis of bio-matter  

Biosensing

Design and development of reliable, accurant, time and cost-efficient biosensing point-of-care devices 

Ongoing Research

Investigation of Mitochondrial Dysfunctions by Electrochemistry

There are numerous genetic diseases resulting from mutations of mitochondrial DNA. In our research, we primarily focus on Cytochrome c Oxidase (COX) deficiency, which represents the most common childhood mitochondrial disorder [1], can result in a variety of health issues, affecting the brain, the heart, the intestinal tract system and other crucial body functions.[2]  

Electrochemistry with its ability to record currents in the femtoampere range, which relates to only a few thousand electrons transferred per second in a redox process [3], represents an ideal tool to develop an early, accurate, rapid and cost efficient biosensor for COX deficiency and investigate new strategies to counter COX symptoms in young patients. Enzyme activity, such as COX, can be detected using redox mediators, which interact with the cells.  Furthermore, in our group we are using and advancing the technique of scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM), a bioanalytical tool, employing a micro- or nanoscale electrode, which is rastered across a surface to analyse its electrochemical activity directly or with the use of redox mediators. Using SECM in the Kuss group, we are looking at the regulation of COX activity under certain environmental conditions.   

Electrochemical Detection and Analysis of Antibiotic Resistance in Pathogens

The overuse of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine as well as agriculture has developed antibiotic resistance (AR) into a global problem, whereby more than 20,000 deaths annually are ascribed to AR in the United States alone.[4] Resistance in bacteria can be due to the acquisition of genes, encoding for defence mechanisms to a specific agent, or to an over expression of drug resistance efflux pumps, which can rapidly expel drugs from the organism. 


As bacterial efflux pumps play a predominant role in AR [5], their activity and function is the primary focus of our research. We are currently working on  the development of a reliable, accurate, as well as time and cost efficient biosensor for AR. Electroactive efflux pump indicators can not only detect AR in samples, but provides quantitative information about resistance in various bacteria strains. Furthermore, it is known that some AR bacteria have the ability to pass on their resistance to neighbouring bacteria [4] and we are aiming to investigate this phenomenon by SECM.

Investigation of Cancer Development by Electrochemistry

 

The design and development of electrochemical tools and equipment, such as specialized electrodes for scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM), can be applied to investigate radiation induced damage in human epidermal keratinocytes. These electrodes can be precisely positioned above these target cultures, which can be exposed to various stimuli and stress factors, such as UV radiation. By monitoring the increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) the cells’ ability to counter oxidative stress can be monitored in real time. The immediate impact of antioxidats on the cells’ coping mechanism can further be investigated.


[1]  M. Bohm et al. Pediatr Res, 2006, 59, 21.  
[2] P. F. Chinnery, in Goldman’s Cecil Medicine: Twenty Fourth Edition, 2011, vol. 2, 2409.
[3]  C. Batchelor-McAuley et al. Analyst, 2015, 140, 5048.  
[4]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance, https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html, (accessed 11 October 2017).
[5] H. Nikaido, Annu. Rev. Biochem., 2009, 78, 119–146.