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Wednesday, 06 June 2018

New review of nanomaterials for point-of-care devices

Daniel Quesada-González and group leader ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi are the authors of this comprehensive and accessible review of nanomaterials for point-of-care diagnostics. Published in Chemical Society Reviews, it runs through the pros and cons of their application in different device types.

Image credit: Caricature illustrating the simplicity expected from a PoC device. Used in the paper, with the permission of M. A. Burns (Science, 2002, 296, 1818–1819)
Copyright 2002 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Point-of-care devices allow quick-and-easy medical testing in the home, in the doctor’s office or out in the field. The pregnancy test is perhaps the most well-known example, the blood glucose test another. Taking a broader view they offer tantalising potential to prevent people from dying from curable diseases: their fast, sometimes instantaneous readouts drastically reduce diagnosis times, while their low cost makes them affordable to medical centres and even individuals all over the world, including in developing countries. 

New materials and a growing understanding of their properties at the nanoscale are playing a major role in the development of such devices. In this comprehensive tutorial review, PhD student Daniel Quesada-González of the ICN2 NanoBioelectronics and Biosensors Group led by co-author ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi discuss the potential of nanomaterials to boost the performance, versatility and affordability of point-of-care diagnostics systems. Published in Chemical Society Reviews, it takes the reader dimension by dimension, discussing the relative advantages of zero- to three-dimensional nanostructures for use in the various device types being designed. 

Besides the commonplace examples mentioned above, the authors point to more futuristic applications like the use of modified chewing gum for bite analysis. They also describe how wearable sensors have already been developed for use in war zones to gauge the impact of blasts and signal when it has been sufficient to have triggered non-visible internal injuries. Oh and, that light sensor in your smartphone that you use to control screen brightness? That’s all the technology you need to process optical-based medical tests. 

As an added bonus, the introduction and conclusion are entirely accessible to a non-specialist reader. So no excuses!

Article reference:

Daniel Quesada-González and Arben Merkoçi. Nanomaterial-based devices for point-of-care diagnostic applications. Chemical Society Review, 17 May 2018. DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00837F (Tutorial Review)