A biosensor is a device that translates a biomolecular binding event into an electrical or optical signal that can be quantified and recorded. Biosensors come in many different formats, from complicated nanofabricated mechanical transducers to simple but effective paper diagnostics such as a pregnancy test. They rely on the unique recognition properties of biomolecules, which can selectively bind their target molecule even at a high background concentration of similar molecules. Biosensors are widely used in modern medicine and essential in diagnosing disease. The module also describes the development and application of diagnostic tools for analysing blood chemistry and counting and analysing cells e.g. haematology.
The module explains how biomolecules can be attached to a sensor surface. Subsequently, the working mechanism of common sensor technologies are explained. The module describes recent developments in diagnostic tools including “zero-cost” paper microfluidics, DNA sequencing, genetic analysis and single cell analytics. The commercial criteria for a successful diagnostic tool, for example for point-of-care diagnostic applications will be discussed. You will undertake a laboratory to understand how the kinetics of flow and surface reactions influence sensor performance.
Throughout the module, weekly tutorials will be dedicated to analysis of articles from the scientific literature that describe the latest advances in biosensors and diagnostic systems. We will discuss the medical need for the sensor systems, principle of operation and testing strategy from a variety of articles ranging from proof of concept devices to clinical trials of commercial products.