Scientists intend to use the latest printing technologies to develop a low cost biosensor capable of diagnosing a range of health conditions.
Living antibodies will be placed into a suitable ink and then printed onto a compatible substrate or material to form a disposable sensor, capable of being mass-produced at low cost. The printed array of antibodies speeds up the testing process while reducing the expertise and complexity of equipment needed--introducing the possibility of hand held electronic scanners and far quicker diagnosis.
Antibody based assays are routinely used to detect specific medical conditions but use of these tests is limited because they need to be carried out in laboratories by highly skilled technicians, which is costly and time consuming.
The team developing the new technique is led by Prof. Tim Claypole, head of Swansea University's Welsh Center of Printing and Coating (Wales, United Kingdom). Prof. Claypole said the project is at the forefront of international research and represents a major advance in the printing of biomedical sensors.
“The availability of low cost, disposable sensor technology is a core requirement for the early diagnosis of disease. The use of antibodies as sensors targeted to detect specific human conditions is regarded as one of the next major advances in health care.
“Volume printing is also the most practical method to achieve low cost disposable sensor technology. This will take innovation from the bench to the bedside and develop the tools and technologies to move the process of diagnosis forward and bring it into the surgery and home.”
In addition to allowing some aspects of patient care to be moved from the hospital or laboratory to the GP surgery, the new biosensor technology could also be useful in emergency situations and in remote areas.
The project is supported by the Welsh Government's Academic Expertise for Business (A4B), an EU funded initiative to stimulate and encourage collaboration between educational institutions and industry.
The initial focus will be developing a proof of concept device that will open opportunities to develop antibody sensors to diagnose a broad range of health conditions.
Swansea University's Welsh Center of Printing and Coating
Welsh Government's Academic Expertise for Business