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January 15, 2021 05:00am
By Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor
Device will detect type 1 and 2 diabetes at an early stage.
Through a collaborative effort, investigators at the University of Twente (UT) are working to develop a portable device for early detection of diabetes.
Diabetes has been an uphill battle around the world, with an estimated 420 million people who have been diagnosed and an additional 180 million individuals who have diabetes but are unaware of it.
Investigators are seeking to develop a cheap, portable device that will require a small drop of blood to detect diabetes at an early stage, thereby allowing a general practitioner to make a diagnosis in its actual or impending form. Furthermore, the device will be able to distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The core of the device will contain a chip equipped with an integrated optical sensor, which will initially scan the drop of blood for 3 different biomarkers. However, investigators will be met with some challenges, including the development of tiny sensors that are sensitive enough to detect biomarkers in a minuscule amount of blood, and the need to design a device that is robust, easy-to-use, and portable.
The investigators noted that the commercial potential of this technology is a key aspect of the project from inception. Sonia García Blanco is the project’s leader, and Dr Kasia Zalewska, from NIKOS (Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship), will be involved in a variety of ways, such as conducting market research and ensuring effective knowledge transfer between the researchers and the involved commercial parties.
In addition to the UT researchers, 5 Dutch companies are also affiliated with the project: BioVolt, MEDLON, PhoeniX B.V., Technobis, and VTEC. They will represent the entire production chain, from chip design to end-user and everything inbetween, and they are contributing more than €100,000 to the project in cash and services.
The STW Technology Foundation has already provided a grant of €235,000 for the project as part of its High Tech Systems and Materials program.