Thursday, September 26, 2013

new trends in the application of paper based analytical devices

Recently, I went to ACS Fall 2013 National meeting in Indianapolis. I presented two talks. My first talk was about a new microfluidic based ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) method for measuring very low concentrations of protein markers and it was in a session called "portable instrumentation for chemical analysis". My second talk was about a new kind of enzyme substrate for ELISA applications and was in a session called "capillary and microfluidic platforms for bioanalytical measurements". Both sessions were under analytical chemistry division. 

As I am more interested in paper based devices these days, I attended talks on low cost analytical devices primarily based on paper. Some talks by professors/students and more posters. I believe the research presented there will be seen more and more in future. Let me point out some of them.

1. paper based devices to monitor low quality pharmaceuticals and iodizing agents in salt.
PBAD used for testing pharmaceuticals. source: ACS
Professor Marya Lieberman and her group from the university of Notre Dame have developed paper based testing devices based on simple colorimetric chemistry. These devices are used to detect low quality pharmaceuticals, iodizing agents in salt etc. They have used these devices in really a low resource settings like in Kenya, Haiti, Iraq, India etc. The idea is that these devices can be sent out to every house/village to test whether the medicine (commonly used) contain what they are supposed to contain. In developing countries this is a very big problem. Prof Toni Barstis's group from Saint Mary's college is also working on paper based colorimetric devices that distinguishes between genuine and low quality anti-malaria ACT (artemisinin combination therapy) medications. The same group has also focused on identifying counterfeit drugs for river blindness.

2. paper based devices for detecting microorganism like bacteria, fungi etc.
One group in Canada are developing paper based culture devices for bacteria. Professor Carey's group from Taiwan are working on single step colorimetric sensing of human pathogenic bacteria in blood.  Their paper device has an array of several dyes (proprietary) that give a signal when reacted from different metabolic by-products of bacteria. This produces kind of finger print to identify bacteria. When successful, this technique could come to market for regular bacteria assays. click here to see their recent publication. Similar to the work by Dr. Carey's group, a group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have worked on differentiation and identification of pathogenic fungi based on colorimetric sensor array that reacts with the volatile organic compounds produced from fungi.

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