Bio-molecular Sensing is an area of research where technologies are being developed for measuring biomolecular markers in bodily fluids and tissues. The so-called biomarkers are biochemical substances that are strong indicators for health and disease. Healthcare is in need of new biomarker sensing technologies because of the demand for real-time, precise and reliable data.
New technologies will allow patient testing and monitoring in the hospital, at the general practitioner’s office, and even at home: the challenge is to enable testing at any place and at any time.
TU/e develops sensing technologies for point-of-care testing and for continuous patient monitoring. A point-of-care sensor measures biomarkers outside the body, e.g. in a drop of blood or in a drop of saliva.
A sensor for continuous patient monitoring, measures continuously and automatically a bodily fluid, by being integrated in a catheter, situated on or in the skin, or by being implanted inside the body. Such continuous sensors are commercially available only for the sensing of glucose, but not yet for the continuous monitoring of other important biomarkers such as hormones, drugs, electrolytes, peptides, proteins, and DNA.
However, in order to be able to personalize healthcare, such sensors are needed, for the monitoring, treatment and coaching of patients.
Biomolecular sensors are based on molecular interactions and physical transduction principles, so the work is highly multidisciplinary. Important areas of research at TU/e are:
- optical detection technologies
- sensing methods with single-molecule resolution
- the engineering of protein and nucleic-acid based molecular constructs
- biochemical coupling techniques
- the use of nanoparticles for signal generation, and microfluidic device technologies.
To stimulate education and innovation in the field of bio-sensing on a worldwide scale, TU/e organizes SensUs, the international student competition on biosensors for health. Annually, teams from universities all over the world compete in developing the most innovative biosensors.