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Using biosensors to deliver personalized doses of antibiotics

Date: 17.9.2018 

At EPFL's Discovery Learning Labs (DLL) – educational facilities designed to promote cross-disciplinary research – a groundbreaking new device is in the works. Eight Master's students in microengineering, bioengineering and life sciences have teamed up (SenSwiss) to develop a portable biosensor as their entry in the SensUs competition, which is held at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands on 7–8 September 2018. 
Kredit: CC0 Creative Commons.

Their device can provide precise measurements of the amount of vancomycin, an antibiotic used as a last-resort treatment, in a patient's blood plasma. This information will help doctors deliver exactly the amount of drug needed and therefore reduce the occurrence of harmful side effects. For instance, vancomycin is known to cause damage to the kidneys and to hearing.

SensUs aims to encourage the development of biosensors, targeting a different application each year – although the objective always relates to measuring a biomarker with an impact on public health. The objective is chosen by a panel of experts that includes Professor Renaud.

Existing tests to measure vancomycin require a great deal of time, a considerable amount of blood and a special machine that costs tens of thousands of Swiss francs.

But the EPFL team's portable biosensor can take measurements in less than five minutes with just a few drops of blood, and costs under 5,000 francs. Their device shines polarized light on a sample containing a homogeneous mixture of the patient's blood plasma and a synthetized peptide (an amino-acid sequence) solution.




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