Living Photonics: Monitoring light propagation through cells
LIPHOS is focused on the development of completely innovative biophotonic diagnosis tools, which are for the first time implemented using cells as constituent material. Here, and unlike existing systems, light remains confined in a waveguide whose core is uniquely composed by cells, giving rise to the “Living photonics” concept. In this context, cells play a two-fold role: i) they form the biomaterial with higher refractive index than the surrounding media, thus defining the waveguide; ii) they are interrogated by the light coupled into them, acting as reporter elements and exhibiting a specific spectral response. The advantage of this configuration is the highly-efficient cell-light interaction, making it possible to diagnose diseases by measuring and comparing their photonic fingerprint (PIN). This key parameter, newly introduced in LIPHOS, consists of the spectral response of the living photonics and includes the different inherent or acquired bands and peaks (scattering, absorbance and/or fluorescence) directly related to the cell culture under study. This is highly specific, since healthy and non-healthy cell cultures present different PINs. This ground-breaking method will give rise to a powerful analytical tool, which could be applied to study and diagnose a disease at cell culture level. The ultimate aim of the LIPHOS project is the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This target will be addressed firstly by measuring adherent cell layers cultured under controlled conditions and representing disease or healthy states. At a later stage, the LIPHOS concept will undergo pre-clinical validation as a diagnostic tool for CVD, using arterial segments obtained from patients with known endothelial dysfunction. LIPHOS provides a realistic, yet innovative and game-changing opportunity of reducing the impact of CVD in society and in the global economy, as well as providing huge market possibilities to the companies involved.