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Logo 22nd ISBC & 20th ISLS


Analytical, clinical and medical applications of luminescence

BESIDES: a lab-in-space for life biomarkers detection in astrobiology investigations

Mara Mirasoli1, Augusto N.2, Laura A.3, Michele B.4, Liyana P.4, Donato Calabria1, Martina Zangheri5, Fabio D. Nardo3, Simone Cavalera3, Claudio Baggiani3, Lorenzo Nardi2, Parsa Abbasrezaee2, Nicola Lovecchio6, Luca Parca7, Serena Perilli7, Aleandro Norfini4

1Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician”, Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna; Interdepartmental Centre for Industrial Aerospace Research (CIRI AEROSPACE), Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, 2School of Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Salaria 851, I-00138, Rome, Italy, 3Department of Chemistry, University of Torino, Via P. Giuria 7, 10125 Torino, Italy, 4Kayser Italia s.r.l., Via di Popogna 501, I-57128, Livorno, Italy, 5Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician”, Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, 6Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, I-00184, Rome, Italy, 7Italian Space Agency (ASI), Via del Politecnico, I-00133, Roma, Italy

E-mail: mara.mirasoli@unibo.it

The search for biomolecules thought to be biomarkers of life is a topic of increasing scientific interest in the field of astrobiology, especially now that the exploration of the Solar System has gained further momentum. At present, significant ambiguities remain in the identification of specific organic chemical species with currently widely used in situ detection methods (i.e., mass spectrometry). The goal of the BESIDES (BiomolEcular SIgnature DEtection System) project, funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), is to develop a highly integrated multiparametric miniaturized platform to be used in future planetary exploration missions. BESIDES offers the in-situ analysis of organic molecules with state-of-the-art analytical techniques for the specific detection of target molecules.BESIDES leverages Lab-on-Chip technology and uses natural and artificial recognition elements to detect biogenic compounds. The payload will integrate in a single Lab-on-Chip 1) a microfluidic network for handling analytes and reagents; 2) a set of detection sites dedicated to immuno-, enzyme- and nanoMIP (nano Molecular Imprinted Polymers)-based assays, which exploit magnetic microspheres as a solid phase and bio/chemiluminescence (BL/CL) detection; 3) an array of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin-film photosensors for the detection of the BL/CL analytical signal. The BESIDES analytical system also includes signal read-out electronics characterized by a high signal-to-noise ratio, a control subsystem and auxiliary subsystems for sample and reagent dispensing, the user interface for system control, programming and data management.Bio/Chemiluminescence is recognized as a very advantageous detection technique for Lab-on-Chip devices, offering high detection in small volumes, high specificity, and simple instrumental requirements. In addition, exploitation of magnetic beads as a solid phase to perform analyses provides, compared to the more conventional approach of immobilizing the recognition elements in microfluidic channels, the advantage of making the system reusable in order to perform a greater number of analysis cycles. The proposed analytical approach has a unique ability to exploit specific antibodies, enzymes, and nanoMIPs to selectively recognize structurally related target molecules, extracted from the samples of interest, to provide a powerful tool for the sensitive and multiplex detection of organic molecules of biological origin (e.g., nucleotides, proteins, alkaloids, lipids and pigments), of fundamental importance for the confirmation of present or past life on a planet (or planetary body).

Keywords: Lab-on-Chip, Microfluidics, Life biomarkers, Multiplex bioassays

Acknowledgments: The BESIDES project is supported by ASI through the Contract n. 2023-3-E.0 (CUP F43D23000130005)

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