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T.E.S.T. competes in the annual SensUs competition, striving to transform healthcare by developing innovative new biosensors.
The challenge of SensUs 2021 was to develop a biosensor to detect the acute respiratory virus influenza A by a rapid saliva test.
Influenza viruses are known to mutate quickly, contributing to pandemic-type situations in society sooner rather than later. As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, rapid testing of patients is crucial to contain the spread of viruses, and to avoid pandemic-type situations.
With hard work and dedication T.E.S.T. 2021 managed to win one of four awards during the SensUs competition: the Translational Potential Award.
The challenge of SensUs 2020 is to develop a biosensor for the measurement of unbound Valproate. This is a biological drug that is prescribed to patients suffering from epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects people of all ages. Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. SensUs is a yearly international student competition on molecular biosensors for medical diagnostics and healthcare applications. Every participating team will make a biosensor for the measurement of unbound Valproate.
This year’s team is focusing on SensUs’ latest challenge:
The development of a biosensor for the medicine Adalimumab, sold as Humira, a drug used to fight rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is characterized by inflammation of the synovium of small joints, like the hands and feet, which leads to the destruction of articular cartilage and bone. The cause of this disorder is not well understood, but the overexpression of proinflammatory cytokines plays an important role. One cytokine that plays a key role is TNF-alfa, Adalimumab binds specifically to this cytokine.
Blood measurements are currently being done sporadically and the dosage is adjusted to the severity of complaints a patient has. Furthermore, the costs of the medication are high, since Adalimumab is one of the three most expensive medicines in the Netherlands. More personalized care and reduction of costs are therefore needed.
Our biosensor uses bioluminescence where we capture Adalimumab with two antibodies that bring together a fluorescent protein. We are currently working hard to realize our assay and the first results seem promising. We have already measured the signal! Coming from absorbed photons from bioluminescence by the antibody coupling.
In addition, we are also working on a cartridge whose design is now complete and many tests are being carried out to dry the compartments in the front of the sensor. Finally, the detection team is busy selecting and testing lenses and photo diodes.
The SensUs competition will take place in September 2019 and everyone is welcome to visit.
We are currently competing in the TU/e Contest and are happy to announce that we current made it to the top 40!
We are working towards getting into the final. The announcement of the finalists is coming soon, so we're very excited!
We will keep you updated!
The created biosensor detects the concentration of vancomycin, a last-ditch antibiotic used for bacterial strains that are already resistant to multiple other antibiotics. The biosensor for vancomycin can be used by patients to recover in the comfort of their home, drastically cutting the amount of blood and time necessary for measurement of vancomycin blood concentration, allowing for faster and more accurate medicine administration. Patients will no longer be required to give large amounts of blood; a small finger prick suffices.
The measurement principle made use of magnetic particles coated with vancomycin and anti-vancomycin antibodies to specifically form dimers. In the presence of free vancomycin in the patient’s blood plasma the vancomycin coated particles and the free vancomycin are in competition to bind to the antibodies resulting in a higher vancomycin concentration in the opto-magnetic readout.
During their project they took part in the annual TU/e Contest which they won as the most promising student team.
The second T.E.S.T. team developed a biosensor for NT-proBNP, a biomarker for heart failure, a disease afflicting 1% of all Europeans. Heart failure damages patients’ mobility and forces frequent hospital trips. T.E.S.T. contributed to the treatment of heart failure by adapting an opto-magnetic cluster assay developed by Adrea Ranzoni of Menno Prins’ Molecular Biosensing for Medical Diagnostics research group (TU/e): with this principle, they booked spectacular results, winning three of the four prizes of the SensUs event.
The inaugural T.E.S.T. team was tasked with measuring creatinine, a biomarker for kidney failure. Kidney failure afflicts 70 million Europeans, chackling them to medication and dialysis machines. They received the creativity award for their elegant adaption of a principle developed by the Protein Engineering research group of Maarten Merkx (TU/e): a fluorescence (BRET-based) competition assay directly readable with a smartphone.