Measuring blood sugar using sweat, and sugar cane residue
People with diabetes need to regularly monitor their blood sugar level. That requires lots of blood pricks.
We are making a sensor that can continuously measure blood sugar level using sweat.
The sensor uses a material which is derived from sugarcane residual and can assist making new generation of glucose sensors cheaper and easier for the user.
We have currently proved the concept of our technology being effective and our vision is to have a full sensor next year.
A new approach to roadside drug testing
Today’s roadside drug testing technology only tests for a few of the illegal drugs that can affect our ability to drive safely. This is also a problem when workers are using heavy machinery for example in the mining industry.
My project is about finding a way to collect saliva and test it in a non-selective device so that all the different classes of illegal drugs are collected. I will be making a sponge-like porous material that could collect, trap and release the illegal, synthetic and new psychoactive substances for onsite drug tests.
A faster, better, test for cannabis
We’re making a better fast illicit drug test by combining electricity and chemistry.
This is to measure drugs such as cannabis in roadside detection or in high risk workplaces such as mines.
Current fast tests are not sensitive enough and have high rates of false negatives for cannabis.
Our test will be the only one able to meet new Australian standards detection limits set down in 2019.
Drug testing represents a huge market. The drug testing market is growing over 17% per year and is currently worth over $5 billion globally.
Our test enables Australian business to access a significant chunk of this market with fast sensitive illicit drug tests.
Roadside testing for hundreds of drugs
Currently in NSW only three drugs are tested for with roadside drug testing, ice, ecstasy and cannabis. These aren’t the only drugs which can impact a person’s ability to safely operate a car.
Our vision is for a device that could test for hundreds of drugs using a small sample of the person’s saliva in a simple 1 minute test?
We have shown that we can detect low levels of several drug analytes, cocaine, ice and fentanyl, in saliva. This technology uses a laser to excite the sample and tell an operator what drug is present in the saliva.
Within five years we hope to have a device onto which the saliva sample is collected and cleaned up and is deposited onto the enhancement surface to take the reading using a handheld device. Since this technology is not drug selective, hundreds of drugs can be tested for in one sample.
A fast accurate test for COVID in minutes
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the need for faster, simpler, cheaper tests.
We all know the PCR test with its uncomfortable nasal swab and then waiting for the pathology laboratory to perform the complex and expensive test.
Rapid antigen tests are fast and you do it yourself, but they’re not as accurate. We have developed a rapid test that uses innovative, highly bright nanoparticles that can directly look for antigens with very high sensitivity and within minutes. It uses comfortable samples such as saliva to detect the asymptomatic people.
This point of care nanosensor is rapid, low-cost, and has a high degree of accuracy, which will directly improve detection and minimize the spreading of the virus.
Cotton sensors to detect viruses
Today’s tests for viruses – such as the PCR test we all know for COVID – are expensive and time consuming.
Many researchers, including my colleagues here at IDEAL, are getting excited the potential of small sensors that could detect viruses in real time. But most sensors are fabricated on rigid and brittle surfaces.
I am developing textile-based sensors for detecting viruses.
Fabrics are lightweight, flexible and they can be electrically conductive.
In this research, to achieve the wearable comfort of electronic skin (e-skin), cotton fabrics will be used as a substrate. They will provide a cost effective design for virus detection. Moreover, these fabrics are breathable and hypoallergenic and will not irritate the skin.
A simple pregnancy test for dairy farmers
The Australian dairy industry is Australia’s third largest rural industry and has gross value of nearly four billion dollars. Farmers need to know the pregnancy state of their cows to obtain maximum or efficient running of the farm.
Currently farmers rely on a costly visit from the vet, or they use strip sensors which measures only one analyte/hormone and are less accurate. If the oestrous situation is not detected on time it will delay the artificial insemination process and cost more.
We are working on simpler, portable, and cheaper test that will detect the pregnancy hormones progesterone and estradiol in milk and use their ratios to detect the pregnancy accurately. These hormones are present at very low levels. But, using tether Bilayer Membrane biosensor (tBLM) propriety technology of SDx, we have already shown that we can detect progesterone in milk, now we’re working on estradiol. We are planning to extend the usage of the biosensor into other medical applications such as detection of early-stage cancer biomolecules.
Continuous/inline pregnancy testing of cows
Mohammad Pourhassan Moghaddam Gharagouney
Current economic situation in the farm can be improved by 50% by increasing the amount of milk production per cow and reproduction of cows that possess high quality genetic reservoir.
To achieve this, farmers require a device that can easily detect levels of fertility hormones in cow milk. We have a solution for farmers; since we are developing a real-time continuous sensing portable device for easy and accurate measurement of the fertility hormones right on the farm.
A simple test for IBD heads to clinical trial
Shashikala Randunu (Upeksha Mirissa Lankage)
75000 Australians suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases known as IBD.
But, to get a diagnosis, they have to go through a suite of intrusive and expensive tests often including colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, gastroscopy, x-rays, and CT scans.
We are going to change that. We have developed a biosensor to identify IBD in a short time.
We have completed the blind trial with positive results and looking forward to starting the clinical blind trial in the near future.
Our vision is that a GP will be able to use our sensor at the medical centre.
Teaching our immune systems to fight cancer
Cancers can hide from our immune system, and this claims the lives of 18 million a year.
So far there is not a cure for cancer without severe side effects, and chemotherapy and radiation therapy is a good example of that.
So, we are developing a gene modified cell therapy, called CAR T-cell therapy. Such therapy teaches the patient’s immune system to recognise and kill cancerous cells.
This new form of treatment can provide a life-long immunity against cancer and would be available within the next five years.
Devices for early disease detection will save lives
EARLY DETECTION COULD SAVE LIVES!!!
For example, detecting HIV antibodies in saliva is quite tedious compared to detecting them in blood samples during early stages of disease.
However, early disease detection is not so easy. Sometimes the concentrations of analytes/biomarkers are close to detection limits, finding it challenging to develop a highly sensitive sensor to meet the requirements.
So, my research is to develop a highly sensitive portable nano-sized electrochemical biosensor that could potentially detect desired analyte/biomarkers at low concentrations even in extracellular fluids like saliva, which could be used by the laboratory technician.
Testing for cancer at home?
Given the outbreak of COVID-19 over the last two years – we are all very familiar with the PCR test. The PCR test is a key technology for detecting disease. These kinds of tests however require specialised staff and laboratories. Therefore the turnaround times can be quite long. What is needed for prompt public health response is rapid point-of-care diagnostic kits.
We are therefore developing in partnership with ULVAC, portable lab-on-a-chip technologies that have the sensitivity needed for point-of-care diagnosis of disease and illness. The challenge is that it is difficult to create a sensor which is both compact and capable of detecting low concentrations of disease. We are facing this challenge by using state-of-the-art photonic integrated technologies that can dramatically improve the sensitivity of such small devices. We expect to test the technology on a range of different medical diagnostic applications.
A blood test for cancer
In Australia, by the age of 85, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with cancer. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of rapid, reliable early stage cancer detection platforms
Cancer is characterised by unregulated cell proliferation where the body is in constant combat with cancerous cells. These cancer cells trigger a network of interactions in other cells which in turn facilitates the spread of malignancy. As the tumour cells proliferate, a number of its components get released into the blood and lymphatic systems
These components include CTCs, ctDNA and exosomes which are enriched sources of cancer biomarkers. These find their way into the bloodstream, which means they can be sourced from a single blood test. This is called liquid biopsy. Compared to traditional biopsies, it is a more rapid, reliable diagnostic platform particularly for early stage cancer detection
For my project, CTCs will be isolated and characterised from clinical samples using our range of integrated microfluidic systems. We will also isolate and characterise exosomes from these sample and facilitate the development of Point-of-Care detection systems for cancer biomarkers.
Find out what we do at the IDEAL Research Hub.