A new biosensor is being developed by researchers that has been proven capable of detecting molecules that lead to some types of cancer as well as neurodegenerative diseases.
The device is basically a single-layer organic nanometer-scale transistor on a glass slide. The biosensor contains the reduced form of the peptide glutathione (GSH), which reacts in a specific way when it comes into contact with the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST), linked to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and breast cancer, among other diseases.
‘A biosensor made of single-layer organic nanometer-scale transistor on a glass slide can detect Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and breast cancer, among other diseases.’
The findings showed that the device could detect such molecules even when they're present at very low levels in the examined material, because of its nanometric sensitivity. "This is the first time organic transistor technology has been used in detecting the pair GSH-GST, which is important in diagnosing degenerative diseases," said Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon from National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) in Campinas, Brazil.
In addition to being portable and of low cost, the system can also be adapted to detect other substances, such as molecules linked to different diseases and elements present in contaminated material, among other applications.
This requires replacing the molecules in the sensor with others that react with the chemicals targeted by the test. The project focuses on the development of point-of-care devices by researchers in a range of knowledge areas, using functional materials to produce simple sensors and microfluidic systems for rapid diagnosis.
"Platforms like this one can be deployed to diagnose complex diseases quickly, safely and relatively cheaply, using nanometer-scale systems to identify molecules of interest in the material analysed," Bufon explained in the paper published in the journal Organic Electronics
. Future works include paper-based biosensors to lower the cost even further and to improve portability and facilitate fabrication as well as disposal, the researchers said.