The research activity within QFM-UC focus on the study of biological samples (e.g. cells, biofluids and tissues) by vibrational spectroscopy, probing changes (chemical as well as structural and dynamical) induced by chemotherapeutic agents, environmental conditions (e.g. burning events) or pathological disorders. This activity spans through several topics:
(i) early diagnostics of disease, with an emphasis on cancer, cystic fibrosis and diabetes mellitus, through the detection of pathology-induced variations in the vibrational profile of human cells, body fluids and tissues;
(ii) biodistribution and biochemical effect of newly developed platinum/paladium-based chemotherapeutic agents on human cells, tissues and living organisms;
(iii) assessment and quantification of heat-induced changes in human skeletal remains, aiming at archaeological and forensic studies (e.g. victims identification);
(iv) estimation of the effect of dietary antioxidants on human cells, with a view to evaluate their possible use as cancer chemopreventive agents and enhancers of chemotherapeutic intervention (adjuvant therapy).
Vibrational spectroscopy is the main methodology applied at QFM-UC. Measurements at the VIBIMA laboratory (Vibrational Spectroscopy Laboratory for Bioprobing) will be complemented by cutting-edge techniques such as:
(i) Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Spectroscopy (CARS), at the unique Iberic setup of this technique at the University of Malaga (Spain), taking advantage of a fruitfull long-term collaboration;
(ii) inelastic/quasi-elastic neutron scattering, at the ISIS Neutron & Muon Source (UK), within a strong cooperation with this world-leading facility;
(iii) synchrotron-radiation IR microspectroscopy and Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS), at Diamond Light Source (UK).
QFM-UC also comprises a celular biology laboratory, which ensures easy access to complementary data on the systems studied, allowing to reliably link structure to biological activity thus promoting an excellent interplay between physical-chemical methods and biological approaches – a feature seldom found in R&D Units within the Physical-Chemistry (spectroscopy) area.
The QFM-UC scientific strategic plan takes advantage of the Unit´s strengths: the diverse know-how of its members – from Chemistry/Physical-Chemistry and Biochemistry/Bioinorganic Chemistry to Cellular/Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Public Health – and the widespread networking with prominent national and international laboratories, namely the participation in the Raman4Clinics COST Action and the International Society for Clinical Spectroscopy (CLIRSPEC), and the collaboration with the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (Manchester University, UK), Dublin Institute of Technology-FOCAS (Ireland) and NAST Centre for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology (Italy), to name just a few. Moreover, the scientific activity that has been carried out at QFM-UC in the last few years is well within the European Commission main societal challenges and key priorities for the upcoming years within the field of Health/Well-being/Healthy Lifestyles: better health and care, sustainable food systems, strengthening international cooperation and creating innovative markets.