UC researchers have developed the first lab-on-a-chip sensor to provide fast feedback regarding levels of the heavy metal manganese in humans. The sensor is both environmentally and child friendly, and will first be field tested in Marietta, Ohio, where a UC researcher is leading a long-term health study on the potential health effects of heavy metals.
Work by University of Cincinnati researchers to create a sensor that provides fast feedback related to the presence and levels of heavy metals specifically manganese in humans is published in the August issue of the prestigious international journal, Biomedical Microdevices.
Described in the article is the development of a low-cost, disposable lab-on-a-chip sensor that detects highly electronegative heavy metals more quickly than current technology generally available in health-care settings. It's envisioned that the new UC sensor technology will be used in point-of-care devices that provide needed feedback on heavy-metal levels within about ten minutes.
It's expected that the sensor will have potential for large-scale use in clinical, occupational and research settings, e.g., for nutrition testing in children.
The new sensor is environmentally friendly in that its working electrode is made of bismuth vs. the more typical mercury, and it's child friendly in that it requires only a droplet or two of blood for testing vs. the typical five-milliliter sample now required.
Explained one of the researchers, UC's Ian Papautsky, "The conventional methods for measuring manganese levels in blood currently requires about five milliliters of whole blood sent to a lab, with results back in 48 hours. For a clinician monitoring health effects by measuring these levels in a patient's blood where a small level of manganese is normal and necessary for metabolic functions you want an answer much more quickly about exposure levels, especially in a rural, high-risk area
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University of Cincinnati