The Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center at Karolinska Institutet is a novel initiative aimed to promote efficient integration of cutting edge technologies and medical research.


The Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center at Karolinska Institutet is uniquely positioned within the medical faculty where medical problems guide the nanoscience development within a setting that offers a blend of technological, pre-clinical and clinical expertise.The Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center will act as a knowledge hub on the national and international arena, forming a physical platform where scientists from the fields of medicine and engineering intimately collaborate in real life. This will foster a new breed of scientists with true interdisciplinary knowledge.

Agneta Richter-Dahlfors


Electrochemical sensing of bacteria via secreted redox active compounds using conducting polymers.

Electrochemical sensing of bacteria via secreted redox active compounds using conducting polymers.

Karen Butina, Susanne Löffler, Mikael Rhen & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical (2019), 297, 126703

Bacterial infections and antibiotic resistance represent major global threats to public health. Current diagnostics use culture based assays that are reliable but slow, hence appealing for new rapid methods. Here we describe redox sensing as a novel concept for rapid, label-free detection of bacteria. We utilize a two-electrode poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) based sensor for detection of bacterially secreted redox-active compounds. Using purified redox-active compounds, we show the ability of the sensor to detect and quantify compounds in micromolar concentrations within minutes. When applied for detection and quantification of Salmonella, we show that secreted, low molecular weight redox compounds cause reduction of the PEDOT:PSS electrode. A potential role of redox sensing in infection diagnostics was demonstrated as uropathogenic strains of E. coli, Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, Proteus, and Klebsiella spp., major causes of complicated urinary tract infections, were successfully detected in complex media or processed urine. Since numerous bacterial species are capable of extracellular electron transfer, redox sensing may find use as a generic method for bacterial detection with applications in research laboatories, the clinic and industry alike.

Bacterial Sensing using polymers and polyelectrolytes.

Conjugated Oligo- and Polymers for Bacterial Sensing.

Susanne Löffler, Haris Antypas, Ferdinand X. Choong, K. Peter R. Nilsson & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Frontiers in Chemistry (2019), 7, 265

Fast and accurate detection of bacteria and differentiation between pathogenic and commensal colonization are important keys in preventing the emergence and spread of bacterial resistance toward antibiotics. As bacteria undergo major lifestyle changes during colonization, bacterial sensing needs to be achieved on different levels. In this review, we describe how conjugated oligo- and polymers are used to detect bacterial colonization. We summarize how oligothiophene derivatives have been tailor-made for detection of biopolymers produced by a wide range of bacteria upon entering the biofilm lifestyle. We further describe how these findings are translated into diagnostic approaches for biofilm-related infections. Collectively, this provides an overview on how synthetic biorecognition elements can be used to produce fast and easy diagnostic tools and new methods for infection control.

Differentiation of glucans using tailor made optotracer molecues.

Stereochemical identification of glucans by a donor–acceptor–donor conjugated pentamer enables multi-carbohydrate anatomical mapping in plant tissues

Ferdinand X. Choong, Linda Lantz, Hamid Shirani, Anette Schulz, K. Peter. R. Nilsson, Ulrica Edlund & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Cellulose (2019), Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 4253–4264

Optotracing is a novel method for analytical imaging of carbohydrates in plant and microbial tissues. This optical method applies structure-responsive oligothiophenes as molecular fluorophores emitting unique optical signatures when bound to polysaccharides. Herein, we apply Carbotrace™680, a short length anionic oligothiophene with a central heterocyclic benzodithiazole (BTD) motif, to probe for different glucans. The donor–acceptor–donor type electronic structure of Carbotrace™680 provides improved spectral properties compared to oligothiophenes due to the possibility of intramolecular charge-transfer transition to the BTD motif. This enables differentiation of glucans based on the glycosidic linkage stereochemistry. Thus α-configured starch is readily differentiated from β-configured cellulose. The versatility of optotracing is demonstrated by dynamic monitoring of thermo-induced starch remodelling, shown in parallel by spectrophotometry and microscopy of starch granules. Imaging of Carbotrace™680 bound to multiple glucans in plant tissues provided direct identification of their physical locations, revealing the spatial relationship between structural (cellulose) and storage (starch) glucans at sub-cellular scale. Our work forms the basis for the development of superior optotracers for sensitive detection of polysaccharides. Our non-destructive method for anatomical mapping of glucans in biomass will serve as an enabling technology for developments towards efficient use of plant-derived materials and biomass.

Crossing Borders in Medical Nanoscience and Biomaterials

Welcome to a one-day symposium in Medical Nanoscience and Biomaterials within The Stockholm - Tokyo University Partnership Multidisciplinary collaboration for sustainable development. Talks are presented by internationally leading scientist from University of Tokyo, Karolinska Institutet (KI) and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). You are most welcome to participate in this exciting event, to share and gain knowledge in these exciting fields. To expand your network, we encourage you to take the opportunity to present your work in the poster sessions.

The symposium will be held on March 8th in the Lecture hall Biomedicum 1 in Biomedicum, Solnavägen 9. For registration, click here. A detailed programme is available here. For questions contact Linda Thörn at

Download the program here.

Haris Charalampos Antypas, PhD, received the €25k Gold Award of the PhD Transition Fellowship Programme from EIT Health and an additional €25k award from Karolinska Institutet to accelerate the development of a diagnostic assay for biofilm-related infections.

Haris is a postdoctoral researcher in Agneta Richter-Dahlfors group at the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center at Karolinska Institutet. During his doctoral studies in Richter-Dahlfors group, Haris developed a diagnostic assay for biofilm-related urinary tract infections, which was recently featured in journal NPJ Biofilms and Microbiomes. This assay is based on a group of molecules called “optotracers”, which emit a spectral signature when bound to biofilm components. Knowing whether a patient has a biofilm-related urinary tract infection could help clinicians prescribe a more effective antibiotic treatment.

“I am honored to receive funding from EIT Health and Karolinska Institutet to pursue the commercialization of this project,” said Haris. “In the following months, my goal is to carry out market research to understand current needs for biofilm detection in clinical diagnostics, but also to demonstrate further the applicability of optotracers in patient samples.”

Our latest research on biofilm diagnostics is featured on the web page of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF)

Part-funded by SSF, this project addresses the urgent need for better clinical microbiology diagnostics. A group of chemical molecules called optotracers was used to detect cellulose in urine samples from patients with urinary tract infections within less than 45 minutes. Detection of cellulose in urine serves as a rapid way to understand whether a patient has a bacterial infection and whether this infection is associated with biofilm formation.

New Diagnostic test for the detection of infections caused by biofilms

 Rapid diagnostic assay for detection of cellulose in urine as biomarker for biofilm-related urinary tract infections

Haris Antypas, Ferdinand X. Choong, Ben Libberton, Annelie Brauner & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
npj Biofilms and Microbiomes (2018) 4:26; doi:10.1038/s41522-018-0069-y

Bacteria such as Escherichia coli are known to hide during an infection by encasing themselves in slime. When they grow like this, clusters of bacteria are called a biofilm and they are hard to detect and hard to treat with antibiotics. We decided to tackle the problem by looking for the slime that protects the bacteria, instead of the bacteria themselves. The important part of this new sensor is that humans naturally do not produce any cellulose so if the sensor lights up there is a high probability that you have an infection. We collected urine samples from Karolinska University Hospital and began testing if the method would work in the clinic. The sensor not only alerts medical staff to the presence of bacteria, but it also gives information of how the bacteria are growing which is very important for treatment. Bacteria growing in biofilms are much more resistant to antibiotics and having this information can help determine the correct course of treatment. As the test is completely non-invasive, it is hoped that it could be used in the future to help diagnose stubborn urinary tract infections in patients.

Congratulations to Assoc. Prof. Anna Herland for her new publication in Nature Biotechnology!


A linked organ-on-chip model of the human neurovascular unit reveals the metabolic coupling of endothelial and neuronal cells
Ben M Maoz, Anna Herland, Edward A FitzGerald, Thomas Grevesse, Charles Vidoudez, Alan R Pacheco, Sean P Sheehy, Tae-Eun Park, Stephanie Dauth, Robert Mannix, Nikita Budnik, Kevin Shores, Alexander Cho, Janna C Nawroth, Daniel Segrè, Bogdan Budnik, Donald E Ingber & Kevin Kit Parker
Nature Biotechnology, 20 August 2018

Welcome to the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center Anna Herland and Team!

Anna Herland is Associate Professor at the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center. Research in the Herland Lab is focused on in vitro neural models and Hybrid Bioelectrical Systems. The aim of the research is to understand neuronal interactions with other neural and neurovascular cells, specifically in terms of metabolic function and neuronal activity. The core technology is based on human primary and stem cell-derived neural cells combined with fluidic and electronic device construction.

Rapid Phenotypic Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing of Uropathogens Using Optical Signal Analysis on the Nanowell Slide
Marta Veses-Garcia, Haris Antypas, Susanne Löffler, Anneli Brauner & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Front. Microbiol., 10 July 2018

A universal platform for selection and high-resolution phenotypic screening of bacterial mutants using the nanowell slide 
Haris Antypas, Marta Veses-Garcia, Emilie Weibull, Helene Andersson-Svahn & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Lab on a Chip, doi:10.1039/C8LC00190A (2018)

More Information

Stereochemical identification of glucans by oligothiophenes enables cellulose anatomical mapping in plant tissues
Ferdinand X. Choong, Marcus Bäck, Anette Schulz, K. Peter. R. Nilsson, Ulrica Edlund & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 3108 (2018)

See the video: here

This paper has been cited in following media outlets:


Electroenhanced Antimicrobial Coating Based on Conjugated Polymers with Covalently Coupled Silver Nanoparticles Prevents Staphylococcus aureus Biofilm Formation
Salvador Gomez-Carretero, Rolf Nybom & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Advanced Healthcare Materials 6:20, 2192-2659 (2017)

This paper has been cited in following media outlets:


Redox-active conducting polymers modulate Salmonella biofilm formation by controlling availability of electron acceptors
Salvador Gomez-Carretero, Ben Libberton, Mikael Rhen & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 3, 19 (2017)

Electrochemically triggered release of acetylcholine from scCO2 impregnated conductive polymer films evokes intracellular Ca2 + signaling in neurotypic SH-SY5Y cells
Susanne Löffler, Silke Seyock, Rolf Nybom, Gunilla B Jacobson & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Journal of Controlled Release 243:283–290 (2016)


Real-time optotracing of curli and cellulose in live Salmonella biofilms using luminescent oligothiophenes
Ferdinand X. Choong, Marcus Bäck, Sara Fahlén, Leif BG Johansson, Keira Melican, Mikael Rhen, K. Peter R. Nilsson & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 2, 16024 (2016)

Agneta Richter-Dahlfors is talking about Biofilms on Swedish National TV program "Godmorgon Sverige" on SVT
If you always wondered what Biofilms are and why its important to being able to see them, you can watch Agneta Richter-Dahlfors' descritive interview.

Nondestructive, real-time determination and visualization of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin by luminescent oligothiophenes
Ferdinand X. Choong, Marcus Bäck, Svava E. Steiner, Keira Melican, K. Peter R. Nilsson, Ulrica Edlund & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 35578 (2016)


An organic electronic biomimetic neuron enables auto-regulated neuromodulation
Daniel T. Simon, Karin C. Larsson, David Nilsson, Gustav Burström, Dagmar Galter, Magnus Berggren & Agneta Richter-Dahlfors
Biosensors and Bioelectronics (2015) 71, 359-364

Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
Ok Decline