Micro-sensor funding

Bolton University scientists have won funding for a three-year project to develop a miniaturised medical sensor.

Bolton University scientists have won funding for a three-year project to develop a miniaturised medical sensor that could bring the earlier diagnoses of diseases such as breast cancer and the detection of viruses such as SARS.

The research and knowledge transfer grant of £1.1m was awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Prof Jack Luo will lead a team of researchers from Bolton University, the Engineering Department at Cambridge University and the Physics Department at Manchester University.

Together they will work to develop the miniaturised diagnostic biosensors.

Thinner than a human hair, the small and sensitive biosensors will be able to detect and identify tiny abnormalities in blood at a very early stage or the slightest trace of a virus.

Luo, prof of microelectromechanical systems at Bolton University, said: ‘The micro-biosensors are a nano-scale microbalance that measure any change induced on the surface of the device, down to a few picogrammes.

‘By combining them with specific molecule-recognition systems related to diseases, such as antibody-antigen, or with a specific coating that will absorb certain chemicals, the biosensor can detect and identify biochemicals in the body in the tiniest quantities, so that it diagnoses diseases at an early stage, before a macro symptom appears.

‘This means, for instance, breast cancer treatments could be less invasive, as the cancer cells’ presence would be detected at an earlier stage.’