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University of Bath

Printed biosensors for next generation sepsis Point-of-Care diagnostic Lab-on-Chip microsystems

We are developing inkjet-printed electrochemical biosensors for sepsis-related protein biomarker quantification.

Bacterial infection attributed sepsis is currently a leading cause of morbidity worldwide. there are around 44,000 deaths a year in the UK alone. But many of these cases could have been avoidable potentially. Sepsis develops very fast; usually within hours. Once sepsis has progressed, even with immediate antibiotic treatment, a patient's chance of survival is only 20 - 40%. Diagnosing sepsis early at the Point-of-Care (POC) is essential. Yet, this sort of diagnostic test is not yet available.

In this project, the research student will use low-cost fabrication technologies to develop disposable biosensors for the next generation of medical diagnostic tests. The aim is to develop the first rapid sepsis diagnostic microchip at the Point-of-Care.

They will use Lab-on-Chip (LoC) microsystems technology to do this. One of the main advantages of using this technology is the ability to transfer medical diagnostic tests from centralised clinical laboratories to the Point-of-Care. For example, they could be used in doctor's offices, at hospital bedsides or in the home. The benefits over conventional laboratory tests include

  • rapid response time
  • miniaturised sample volumes
  • automation
  • portability

The extensive research efforts from the growing global LoC community has proven these advantages. Over the years, they have highlighted the feasibility of this technology (e.g. home blood glucose tests, home pregnancy tests).

In this project, we will develop the first nanoparticle-modified, inkjet-printed electrochemical biosensors. The aim is to increase current sensitivity performance for low-concentration biomarkers. We will then modify the fabricated electrodes to perform sepsis-specific biomarker detection (procalcitonin). This ambitious project is supported by cross-disciplinary academic and industrial collaborators in health, biochemistry and engineering.