Good health, well-being and security of human population are of high priority. The health research conducted at the CNST focusses on:

  • Developing new tools for more sensitive, accurate and faster diagnostics and screening
  • Modelling biological systems using tethered membranes
  • Developing coatings with antibacterial or microbial resistant properties

Antibiotic resistance has been labeled one of the greatest threats to human health, with infections becoming more difficult to treat with conventional methods. There are two main projecs tackling this issue within the Centre:

  1. Mimicking microbial membranes to develop a testing platform for antibiotics. Researchers have designed a tethered membrane-based model of the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria. The model consists of a lipid bilayer, linked to a solid support, with the outer leaflet composed of bacterial lipids. The solid support allows the use of a variety of analytical techniques to study the structure and function of these membranes. The model platform has been used to probe the effect of various drugs and nanoparticles on the structure and function of the membrane. It has been used to show Colistin, a well-known antibiotic drug, had significant effects on the membrane integrity, in line with a mechanism of action based on membrane disruption

  2. Preventing infection through an implantable nanomesh. This project aims to combat the issue of antibiotic resistance by making 100-nanometer thick fibers and incorporating a range of antibiotics into the fibers (below, left). These fibers collectively make up a material similar to a bandage (below, right) which then could be applied to patients with a high chance of infection, such as burns victims. Over time, the antibiotics are released from the fibers to give a sustained dosage over several days or weeks. The incorporation of multiple antibiotics within a mesh can potentially allow for the antibiotic action to take place at the source of infection, theoretically reducing dosage and therefore side effects.



Early detection and appropriate management of chronic kidney disease can reduce the progression of kidney failure and cardiovascular disease. The urine albumin to creatinine ratio (UACR) test is a standard urine test for identifying individuals at high risk of developing progressive kidney disease. In this study, IDATPE, a novel fluorescent probe with aggregation-induced emission (AIE) features, has been successfully developed for creatinine detection and quantitation. Excellent correlation between fluorescent light intensity and creatinine concentration has been achieved. As well, BSPOTPE, a reported excellent AIE bioprobe for human serum albumin (HSA) quantitation, is used together with IDATPE in artificial urine for UACR testing. The mutual interference of HSA and creatinine when bioprobes are used for quantitation has been characterized, with promising results.