Cortisol and estradiol are steroid hormones that, in normal physiological concentrations, play key roles for controling the human body functions. Considering that cortisol is a potential biomarker of several diseases whereas estradiol is an endocrine disruptor and an emerging contaminant, their monitoring in biological fluids and environmental samples represent crucial tasks for human health care and ecosystems protection. In this research project, we propose the development of sensor platforms for the determination of cortisol and estradiol by combining an ultrasensitive technique (surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, SERS) and highly selective materials (molecularly imprinted polymers, MIPs). For this purpose, monodisperse gold and silver spherical nanoparticles will be synthesized, characterized and utilized as reproducible SERS substrates. Three different types of MIPs [conventional, magnetic and core(nanoparticle)@shell(polimer)] will be synthesized, characterized and compared in order to obtain efficient materials to extract and quantify the selected hormones in the presence of interferences. To improve the performance of conventional univariate methods, the SERS spectra will be analyzed in multivariate form via partial least squares regression. Finally, the analytical method will be validated by calculating the figures of merit (precision, accuracy, limits of detection and quantification, etc.) in the analysis of soil samples, drinking water, river water and certified reference materials of biological fluids. It is expected that the synergistic coupling MIP-SERS for the determination of hormones, not previously reported in the literature, can become a general analytical strategy for the human health care and environmental protection. Additionally, this project is whithin the scope of the goals set by the National Institute of Alternaive Technologies for the Detection, Toxicological Assessment and Removal of Micropollutants and Radioactives - INCT-DATREM, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Maria Valnice Boldrin, and recently validated under the processes CNPq (465571/2014-0) and FAPESP (2014/50945-4).
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: