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

A solitary test strip – the initial platform to few a methanol fuel cell with a biosensor – could act as a self-driven, uncomplicated-to-use, disposable, and low-price test for conditions these kinds of as cancer, say EU-funded scientists.


© Konstiantyn Zapylaie #209120253, 2020

Biosensors are built to recognise unique goal molecules (biomarkers) that show health and fitness ailments, these kinds of as cancer. Nevertheless, the require to connect them to an vitality supply presently limitations their possible use as stage-of-treatment products.

The EU-funded SYMBIOTIC undertaking, which is supported via the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder investigate programme, beforehand FET Open up, exploited preceding investigate – which proved that methanol fuel cells can be fused with electrochemical biosensors – to build a basic, light-weight, low-price, and wholly self-driven prototype.

The novel self-driven platform – which combines a fuel cell with a biosensor in a solitary test-strip – could confirm crucial in the detection and management of conditions, specifically in periods of worldwide disaster.

‘Our platform is really promising for applications in sensor products considering that it has low vitality demands and can be effortlessly miniaturised,’ claims undertaking coordinator Goreti Gross sales, formerly of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto in Portugal, now centered at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.

‘Although the strategy is that just about every strip is made use of after, it can be reused numerous periods whilst retaining its stability and efficiency, which is a novelty in this type of basic product.’

Doing the job in synergy

SYMBIOTIC scientists made the prototype product from a solitary strip of cellulose paper which homes the two the methanol fuel cell and the biosensing capability. The biosensing layer is inserted specifically into the methanol fuel cell to develop into an integral component of it, dependable for changing chemical vitality into electrical vitality.

The fuel-cell anode is modified with a plastic antibody able of recognising a protein biomarker. A couple drops of a patient’s sample are placed on the strip. If this sample includes the biomarker of curiosity, this biomarker binds to the anode and creates an electrical modify in the fuel cell to limit its effectiveness.

The electrical sign attained from the fuel cell is specifically relevant to the focus of the cancer biomarker in the sample.

The product is wholly self-contained, operates autonomously at space temperature, and is entirely passive, demanding only a small volume of aqueous methanol remedy in combination with oxygen from the encompassing air.

The SYMBIOTIC platform could be made use of to detect a various vary of substances, from little molecules, these kinds of as amino acids, to additional complex molecules, these kinds of as cancer biomarkers.

The investigate group also believe the modern configuration of their product could be ideal as a micro fuel-cell technique for a vary of other portable applications that demand a little electric power supply.

A flexible platform

Because the undertaking closed in 2018, PhD learners Liliana Carneiro and Nádia Ferreira have been operating on bettering the present product. Earning use of new processes for getting ready the plastic antibodies, for case in point, would appreciably decrease expenditures and pace up production. Other means of growing the fuel cell’s effectiveness are also under investigation.

‘Because this technique does not demand superior electric power output and a steady procedure method, the metallic catalysts we’ve employed could be changed by other additional greatly offered catalysts at a decrease price,’ adds Gross sales.

The platform has the possible to be made use of in the potential for speedily analysing affected person samples any place, opening prospects for the broader use of biosensors in worldwide healthcare systems.

The EIC Pathfinder programme (FET Open up) fosters novel tips to guidance early-phase science and engineering investigate in checking out new foundations for radically new potential systems.