Nav: Home

Sensors detect disease markers in breath

May 18, 2017

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A small, thin square of an organic plastic that can detect disease markers in breath or toxins in a building's air could soon be the basis of portable, disposable sensor devices. By riddling the thin plastic films with pores, University of Illinois researchers made the devices sensitive enough to detect at levels that are far too low to smell, yet are important to human health.

In a new study in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, professor Ying Diao's research group demonstrated a device that monitors ammonia in breath, a sign of kidney failure.

"In the clinical setting, physicians use bulky instruments, basically the size of a big table, to detect and analyze these compounds. We want to hand out a cheap sensor chip to patients so they can use it and throw it away," said Diao, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois.

Other researchers have tried using organic semiconductors for gas sensing, but the materials were not sensitive enough to detect trace levels of disease markers in breath. Diao's group realized that the reactive sites were not on the surface of the plastic film, but buried inside it.

"We developed this method to directly print tiny pores into the device itself so we can expose these highly reactive sites," Diao said. "By doing so, we increased the reactivity by ten times and can sense down to one part per billion."

For their first device demonstration, the researchers focused on ammonia as a marker for kidney failure. Monitoring the change in ammonia concentration could give a patient an early warning sign to call their doctor for a kidney function test, Diao said.

The material they chose is highly reactive to ammonia but not to other compounds in breath, Diao said. But by changing the composition of the sensor, they could create devices that are tuned to other compounds. For example, the researchers have created an ultrasensitive environmental monitor for formaldehyde, a common indoor pollutant in new or refurbished buildings.

The group is working to make sensors with multiple functions to get a more complete picture of a patient's health.

"We would like to be able to detect multiple compounds at once, like a chemical fingerprint," Diao said. "It's useful because in disease conditions, multiple markers will usually change concentration at once. By mapping out the chemical fingerprints and how they change, we can more accurately point to signs of potential health issues."
-end-
Diao's group collaborated with Purdue University professor Jianguo Mei on this work.

Editor's notes: To contact Ying Diao, call 217-300-3505; email yingdiao@illinois.edu.

The paper "Solution-Processed Nanoporous Organic Semiconductor Thin Films: Toward Health and Environmental Monitoring of Volatile Markers" is available online. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201701117

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Kidney Failure Articles:

Novel treatment offers kidney failure patients with rare disorder new hope
A novel treatment offers kidney failure and kidney transplant patients with a rare disorder new hope.
Study quantifies kidney failure risk in living kidney donors
Researchers have developed a risk calculator that estimates the risk of kidney failure after donation.
Potential new treatment for kidney failure in cancer patients
Kidney dysfunction is a frequent complication affecting more than 50 percent of all cancer patients, and is directly linked to poor survival.
Testing urine for particular proteins could be key to preventing kidney transplant failure
Testing for molecular markers in the urine of kidney transplant patients could reveal whether the transplant is failing and why, according to research presented at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
HIV+ kidney failure patients face hurdles in receiving necessary transplants
From 2001 to 2012, HIV+ kidney failure patients on the transplant waiting list were 28 percent less likely to receive a transplant compared with their HIV- counterparts.
Researchers study care for undocumented immigrants with kidney failure
By failing to provide scheduled dialysis treatments to undocumented immigrants with kidney failure, states pay higher costs for care and the patients face greater pain and psychological distress, according to a new study appearing in the latest issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Kidney failure patients' advance directives are often inadequate
In a recent study, nearly half of kidney failure patients receiving dialysis had advance directives outlining their preferences related to end-of-life care, but only a very small minority of these directives addressed the management of dialysis.
New strategy may help prevent kidney failure in patients with diabetes
A new strategy may help halt the progression of kidney disease in patients with diabetes.
Metabolite secreted in urine may cause cognitive impairment in kidney failure patients
Retention of certain metabolites in the blood may contribute to cognitive impairment in patients with kidney failure, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Female hormones may make women less susceptible to kidney failure than men
Researchers detected transient increases in enzymes indicative of kidney health that correlated with specific phases of the female reproductive hormone cycle.

Related Kidney Failure Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...