Researchers developed a sensor that detects multiple proteins and enzymes in a small volume of blood

A team of researchers at the University of York have developed
a new sensor that’s capable of detecting multiple proteins and enzymes in a
small volume of blood, which could speed up diagnostic healthcare processes. 


Today’s tests use to detect infections or diseases require a
blood sample from a patient, which is analyzed in a laboratory to detect
markers of disease. The presence of specific proteins can give an indication of
a health condition and the best treatment options, but just one type of protein
can be identified per sample.

If multiple tests are needed, as in the case of the
suspected presence of cancer cells or resistant infection, the delivery of
results typically takes longer and the cost of testing increases. Thanks to the
team at York, the biosensor they developed combines light and electricity to
detect multiple disease biomarkers in one small sample of blood. This
technology can make blood tests more comfortable for patients, and more
importantly, it can enable results to be processed quicker.

According to Professor Thomas Krauss of the University of
York’s Department of Physics, the sensors give fast, real-time results at a low
cost. “Not
only can this new technology speed the process up, but it can test for a number
of proteins and enzymes together in just one sample, increasing the chances of
a successful and timely diagnosis,” he said.

Researchers are currently looking to test the new technology
in urine samples for urinary tract infections, which have a high resistance to
antibiotic treatment. If the biosensor can identify biomarkers of the infection
and of resistance, it’s more likely that the correct course of antibiotic
treatment will be prescribed the first time around, rather than repeat visits.

“Combining light and
electricity in silicon sensors have never been done before,” said Dr. Steve
Johnson from the University of York’s Department of Electronics. “This exciting
new technology provides in-depth analysis of biological interactions and new
ways of sensing on the micro-scale.”

The emergence of stratified
and personalized medicines —
the tailoring of treatments to the biology of the individual — has increased the demands on diagnostic technologies.
The research, supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research
Council (EPSRC), was originally published in the journal Nature Communications.