Medical tests administered by diagnosticians are often as expensive as the treatment itself. The reason being that the equipment used to conduct these tests is often extremely expensive.
In a first, two researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have developed a paper-based biosensor that can help in rapid detection of an enzyme called lipase, which can further help in the diagnosis of several cardiac as well as liver diseases.
Prof Uday Maitra, Source: Facebook.
According to a report in The Times of India, this biosensor developed by Prof Uday Mitra along with his student Tumpa Gorai, costs less than Re. 1 to fabricate. This first-of-its-kind sensor is a portable and disposable device that has the potential to play an important role in the field of biological and medical science. The team’s aim is to develop user-friendly, low-cost sensors to help in the diagnosis of different diseases in areas where resources are scarce.
What are biosensors?
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Biosensors measure the interaction of a chemical substance with the biological element, thereby detecting different biological elements like tissues, microorganisms, and enzymes. The interaction is quantified by converting it into an electrical or a light signal. In recent years, paper-based biosensors have been attracting attention of researchers, owing to their biodegradability, convenience, and efficiency.
“Enzymes are one of the important targets of bioanalytes in the field of biosensors as they play crucial roles in the regulation of metabolic functions in living systems. The detection of enzyme activity through an efficient and simple design is, therefore, of utmost importance. Our lab has fabricated a low-cost paper biosensor that rapidly detects the presence of lipase, a pancreatic enzyme, which breaks down fats into smaller molecules called fatty acids and glycerol during the process of digestion. While a certain amount of lipase is important for maintaining normal digestive function, an abnormally high level of lipase indicates damage to the pancreas,” the researchers told TOI.
This inexpensive paper-based sensor requires low volumes of biological sample for analysis.
The biosensor comprises of a paper disc, embedded with a gel made with terbium, and is doped with a synthetic enzyme substrate. When the disc comes in contact with lipase, it turns green under UV light. The intensity of the colour change indicates the amount of the enzyme present in the sample.