Want to talk to us about biosensors?
We are a team of eleven second year students from Imperial College London, participating in an international competition- SensUs (www.sensus.org). This year’s teams were tasked to design and build a biosensor to measure the concentration of Adalimumab in plasma for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). We have spent the summer working in new, state of the art labs at the Molecular Sciences Research Hub, White City, building our biosensor from scratch with the help of TTP Plc, one of our sponsors. The competition ends in Eindhoven, the Netherlands this August, where we look forward to presenting our working prototype to a panel of judges.
According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society more than 400,000 people in the UK suffer from RA, of which 20,000-24,000 are currently on Adalimumab. Adalimumab can cause problems in many patients including immunogenicity, over and underdosing as there is only one current dose available and it is dosed once a fortnight in all patients despite different weights or genders. Current tests for levels of Adalimumab in a patient's blood take up to two weeks for results from a lab and require a full blood test, which can be tedious if needed regularly and expensive.
Therefore a reliable and accurate biosensor for Adalimumab would help thousands of patients in the UK and many more globally, the current standard is an ELISA assay which costs approximately £40 a test and up to £140 when including cost of delivery and the nurse's time taking a blood test. Our biosensor will eventually be able to take a single droplet of blood and produce a reading in under 5 minutes enabling patients to only make one visit to the doctors for their tests as it can be done during their regular RA checkup - reducing travel costs and enabling doctors to change their advice much more quickly.
Our biosensor will also enable patients to be involved in their treatment through the use of our app which enables the patient to log their symptoms daily on a sliding scale of green to red. The concentration of Adalimumab measured by our sensor can be typed in or transferred to the app automatically via WiFi.
With the regular advice and support of TTP on both the chemistry and engineering sides of our team, we have been able to refine our experiments and have produced our first prototype on a timescale of only a few months. TTP provided several points of contact across different fields of expertise, as well as generously offering financial support to help fund our research so that we are ready for Eindhoven.
Beyond the competition this summer, we are interested in taking our prototype from dealing only with plasma to being able to measure the levels of Adalimumab in blood. Then taking our sensor from a prototype to a product that is ready for manufacture and trialing and improving with patients and doctors across the country. We would also be interested to expand our ability to test beyond Adalimumab in order to accurately measure the concentration of other protein drugs to improve the quality of life for many patients.
We are very grateful to TTP for all of their support, it has been invaluable and has meant we’ve had another source of information to turn to when things didn’t quite go right. Check out our team on Instagram @JointVenture2019 and Facebook @Joint Venture 2019, and be sure to vote for us on 30th August on www.digital.sensus.org.