A team of scientists has developed a non-invasive handheld biosensor device for detecting biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The results of this biosensor can also be wirelessly transmitted to a laptop or smartphone. The device passed in vitro testing on patient samples, displaying accuracy similar to the most advanced current procedures. Next, this biosensor will be used to test saliva and urine samples. Furthermore, the device might be modified to detect biomarkers for other medical disorders. The system detects electrical signals rather than chemical signals, which researchers claim is easier to deploy and more precise. This portable diagnostic technology would enable neurodegenerative disease testing at home and points of care, such as clinics and nursing homes worldwide.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are estimated to impact 14 million people in the United States by 2060. Due to patient pain and a need for access to medical facilities, current testing methods are difficult. Researchers want to develop a non-invasive test for detecting amyloid beta and tau peptides and alpha-synuclein proteins in saliva and urine using electrical sensing. The device will send results electronically to patients and their families. Chip miniaturization and large-scale biosensor production enabled the breakthrough.
A PNAS research published in 2023 describes a device that employs a high-sensitivity field effect transistor (FET) chip. The device is made up of a graphene layer and three electrodes that are linked to a battery. An aptamer is a DNA strand that attaches to amyloid beta, tau, or synuclein proteins, identifying specific biomarkers such as amyloids or COVID-19 proteins. The technology detected brain-derived amyloid proteins from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients with high accuracy. The device operates at extremely low concentrations, with samples requiring only a few microliters. The biosensor also worked effectively in the presence of other proteins.
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