Researchers from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Indore have jointly developed a biosensor that makes it possible to detect kidney disorders in less than eight minutes.
The biosensor can accurately measure both the pH and urea concentration with a single drop of urine. According to researchers who developed the biosensor, it will help make a point-of-care test to determine whether kidneys are functioning normally or not.
The study was funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Its results have been published in the journal, Scientific Reports.
About conventional kidney tests
• To check the proper functioning of kidneys, doctors generally need an estimate of pH and urea, as most kidney disorders result in reduced pH and a higher concentration of urea.
• In the available methods, patients have to undergo two tests in order to detect urea accurately.
• In addition, the results can be affected by the contaminating components in urine such as calcium, chloride, ascorbic acid, sodium and potassium, making them inaccurate.
New Biosensor test
• Developed by three researchers-Rashmi Chaudhari, Abhijeet Joshi, and Rohit Srivastava, the new biosensor can detect both pH and urea.
• It is made by encapsulating an enzyme urease and a molecule FITC-dextran in alginate microspheres.
• The combination of the enzyme and the molecule emits fluorescence colour in response to chemical reaction with urea and changes in pH when urine is added.
• The fluorescence reduces when the pH is acidic and increases when it is alkaline.
The change in fluorescence intensity helps to calculate the values of pH and urea.
Advantages of the Biosensor Test
• The biosensor is made using alginate and hence, is safe and non-toxic to handle.
• It can work in the ideal pH range of 4-8 and is able to detect even low concentrations of urea up to 50 millimolar.
• So far, tests have revealed the accuracy of the biosensor to be more than 97 percent.
• Further, the biosensor is stable for up to a month in a refrigerator and gives results that are unaffected by other components in urine samples.
• It can help make rapid and accurate point-of-care diagnostic test for kidney disorders.
While the newly developed test has various pros, it has a con as well, as it is not user-friendly and cost-effective in comparison to other electrochemical techniques that are routinely used for the purpose.
Who: IIT Researchers
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