Graphene device chip attached to an electrical connector, with two 5 μL HCVcAg samples (one applied on each graphene resistor). Credit: Swansea University
Swansea University, Biovici Ltd, and the National Physical Laboratory have developed a method for detecting viruses in extremely minute volumes.
The work, which was published in Advanced NanoBiomed Research, is the result of a successful Innovate U.K. project to develop graphene for use in biosensors—devices that can detect minute amounts of disease markers.
Detecting viruses such as hepatitis C (HCV) in regions of the world that lack access to high-tech labs in hospitals could prevent millions of preventable deaths worldwide. In addition, such biosensors could be used at the point of care, allowing for the provision of effective health care in remote areas.
Utilization of the material graphene enables the detection of viruses in such minute quantities. Graphene is extremely thin, measuring only one atom in thickness, making it highly susceptible to attachments. Scientists at Swansea University were able to make the surface of graphene sensitive to the HCV virus by carefully controlling its surface. These measurements were conducted at the National Physical Laboratory by graphene experts.
In the future, it is hoped that multiple biosensors will be integrated onto a single chip, allowing for the simultaneous detection of multiple types of dangerous viruses or disease markers.
Ffion Walters, Innovation Technologist at the Healthcare Technology Center at Swansea University, stated: “Point-of-care applications have never been more in need of highly sensitive and simple sensors. This collaborative effort has enabled us to develop proof-of-concept real-time sensors for HCV, which could be particularly useful in settings with limited resources or for populations that are difficult to reach.”
Professor Owen Guy, chemistry department head at Swansea University, stated: “We have now developed graphene-based biosensors for both Hepatitis B and C at Swansea University. This is a major step toward a future test administered at a single point of care.”
Dr. Olga Kazakova, NPL Fellow Quantum Materials & Sensors, provided the following information: “NPL was pleased to be a member of this multidisciplinary group. Through participation in this project, we were able to further develop our metrological validation facilities, apply them to the characterization of graphene biosensors, and contribute to the resolution of a significant health sector challenge.”
Further information: Ffion Walters et al, A Rapid Graphene Sensor Platform for the Detection of Viral Proteins in Low Volume Samples, Advanced NanoBiomed Research (2022). DOI: 10.1002/anbr.202100140
Source: Swansea University