Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New biosensor could save lives by giving faster medical analysis

03.07.2002


The biosensor
© EPSRC


Every day accident and emergency units have to treat patients who have taken some sort of drug overdose. To give treatment doctors need to know what the patient has taken. The circumstances can make often this difficult to ascertain quickly.

Researchers are developing a new kind of biosensor, which can determine in minutes if a patient’s blood contains a particular compound, for example paracetamol. Currently this type of examination needs to be carried out in a laboratory, which is expensive and time consuming.

The research is being carried out by Dr Sub Reddy’s team at the University of Surrey with funding from the Swindon based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.



The sensor system can return a response in less than 10 minutes compared to the 2 – 3 hours required by a routine laboratory, depending on their workload. “Our sensor is portable and will be easy to use even by unskilled staff,” says Dr. Reddy. “Ideally, the overdose sensor may be located in the ambulance so that a result is available when the patient arrives at hospital.” The paracetamol sensor is the pilot to the development of an array of overdose sensors, which will test for alcohol and anti-depressants as well.

The capabilities of the biosensor extend far beyond helping patients who have taken a drug overdose. “We have successfully used the system to detect glucose,” says Dr Reddy. The team is also investigating the detection of creatinine, a product in the body, which is an indicator of kidney dysfunction.

The heart of the biosensor consists of a disc-shaped quartz crystal, around a centimetre in diameter and 0.2 mm thick. “When an alternating electric field is applied the crystal vibrates from side to side, like a nano-scale earthquake,” says Dr Reddy. “It shakes ten million times a second with an amplitude of a fraction of a nanometre.” The crystal can continue to oscillate even when immersed in a liquid. Anything which then sticks to the crystal surface or which affects the viscosity or elasticity of any attached film at the surface will affect the frequency at which the crystal vibrates.

The concept of the sensor is to have a small reaction chamber above the surface of the crystal. When a sample – blood, say – is placed in the chamber a series of carefully designed chemical reactions can be made to occur which result in the molecule of interest – for example cholesterol – contributing to the formation of a solid product. The product then attaches to the surface of the crystal, affecting the frequency of its oscillation.

Because the chemical reaction can be made to be highly specific to the molecule of interest so that only one solid product is formed, other substances in the sample will not interfere with the process or provide spurious readings.

Dr. Reddy explained how the biosensor has been used to detect glucose. “Here you add the sample to the reaction mixture. An enzyme oxidises the glucose to form hydrogen peroxide. This in turn is acted upon by a second enzyme and reacts with other ingredients in the mixture to form a water repelling molecule, which comes out of solution and can be made to attach to the quartz. This causes a change in the oscillation frequency which can be correlated with the quantity of product, which can in turn be related to the amount of glucose originally present in the sample.”

Dr Reddy believes that his team has demonstrated the feasibility of the concept of using a quartz crystal sensor in this way. “We have shown that the system has excellent sensitivity. We are getting extremely large signals.”

The researchers are now looking into ways of refining the system, by using membranes above the surface, which are selective for specific types of molecule, for example. This would ‘filter out’ any potentially contaminating species to provide a much cleaner and unambiguous reading. “We are building up a portfolio of detection strategies for compounds of interest and we are now reaching the stage where we are looking for industrial collaborators. We are also applying this viscoelastic sensor to lab-on-a-chip type technologies, as well as integrating it with synthetic polymer films capable of molecular recognition,” says Dr Reddy.

Jane Reck | alfa

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Novel potassium channel activator which acts as a potential anticonvulsant discovered
01.07.2020 | The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

nachricht Cancer cells make blood vessels drug resistant during chemotherapy
01.07.2020 | Hokkaido University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

Im Focus: A structural light switch for magnetism

A research team from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure of Dynamics (MPSD) and the University of Oxford has managed to drive a prototypical antiferromagnet into a new magnetic state using terahertz frequency light. Their groundbreaking method produced an effect orders of magnitude larger than previously achieved, and on ultrafast time scales. The team’s work has just been published in Nature Physics.

Magnetic materials have been a mainstay in computing technology due to their ability to permanently store information in their magnetic state. Current...

Im Focus: Virtually Captured

Biomechanical analyses and computer simulations reveal the Venus flytrap snapping mechanisms

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) takes only 100 milliseconds to trap its prey. Once their leaves, which have been transformed into snap traps, have...

Im Focus: NASA observes large Saharan dust plume over Atlantic ocean

NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite observed a huge Saharan dust plume streaming over the North Atlantic Ocean, beginning on June 13. Satellite data showed the dust had spread over 2,000 miles.

At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Colin Seftor, an atmospheric scientist, created an animation of the dust and aerosols from the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

First exposed planetary core discovered

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Energy-saving servers: Data storage 2.0

01.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Laser takes pictures of electrons in crystals

01.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>