Self-powered platform holds promise… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation


A single examination strip – the initially platform to pair a methanol fuel cell with a biosensor – could act as a self-run, quick-to-use, disposable, and minimal-price tag examination for disorders this kind of as most cancers, say EU-funded researchers.

© Konstiantyn Zapylaie #209120253, supply:stock.adobe.com 2020

Biosensors are intended to recognise specific focus on molecules (biomarkers) that indicate wellness problems, this kind of as most cancers. Nonetheless, the require to link them to an energy supply at this time limits their prospective use as position-of-treatment equipment.

The EU-funded SYMBIOTIC job, which is supported through the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder analysis programme, earlier FET Open up, exploited preceding analysis – which proved that methanol fuel cells can be fused with electrochemical biosensors – to develop a straightforward, lightweight, minimal-price tag, and entirely self-run prototype.

The novel self-run platform – which brings together a fuel cell with a biosensor in a single examination-strip – could show essential in the detection and regulate of disorders, specially in periods of world crisis.

‘Our platform is incredibly promising for applications in sensor equipment due to the fact it has minimal energy calls for and can be effortlessly miniaturised,’ says job coordinator Goreti Product sales, previously of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto in Portugal, now dependent at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.

‘Although the plan is that each strip is made use of after, it can be reused various periods while retaining its stability and effectiveness, which is a novelty in this type of straightforward product.’

Performing in synergy

SYMBIOTIC researchers designed the prototype product from a single strip of cellulose paper which properties the two the methanol fuel cell and the biosensing capacity. The biosensing layer is inserted directly into the methanol fuel cell to grow to be an integral portion of it, liable for converting chemical energy into electrical energy.

The fuel-cell anode is modified with a plastic antibody capable of recognising a protein biomarker. A few drops of a patient’s sample are positioned on the strip. If this sample includes the biomarker of desire, this biomarker binds to the anode and produces an electrical adjust in the fuel cell to limit its efficiency.

The electrical sign received from the fuel cell is directly related to the concentration of the most cancers biomarker in the sample.

The product is entirely self-contained, operates autonomously at room temperature, and is absolutely passive, requiring only a very small amount of aqueous methanol remedy in blend with oxygen from the bordering air.

The SYMBIOTIC platform could be made use of to detect a varied variety of substances, from compact molecules, this kind of as amino acids, to a lot more complicated molecules, this kind of as most cancers biomarkers.

The analysis workforce also feel the revolutionary configuration of their product could be acceptable as a micro fuel-cell program for a variety of other moveable applications that involve a compact electrical power supply.

A adaptable platform

Given that the job shut in 2018, PhD college students Liliana Carneiro and Nádia Ferreira have been doing work on improving upon the latest product. Making use of new processes for planning the plastic antibodies, for case in point, would drastically reduced fees and pace up output. Other strategies of growing the fuel cell’s efficiency are also under investigation.

‘Because this program does not involve significant electrical power output and a continual procedure method, the metallic catalysts we’ve employed could be changed by other a lot more extensively offered catalysts at a reduced price tag,’ provides Product sales.

The platform has the prospective to be made use of in the potential for fast analysing affected individual samples anyplace, opening prospects for the wider use of biosensors in world healthcare systems.

The EIC Pathfinder programme (FET Open up) fosters novel suggestions to guidance early-stage science and technological know-how analysis in checking out new foundations for radically new potential systems.