Using graphene, a nanomaterial made of carbon with the thickness of a single atom, scientists say they have made a cheaper and more accessible antibody test for kidney disease.
The aim, University of Manchester researchers say in a press release, was to perform a test that quickly measures specific antibodies at the doctor’s office, rather than in any nearby laboratory that might have expensive and specialized equipment.
For now, he is focusing on autoimmune membrane nephropathy (MN) kidney disease, but say the concepts he is exploring could be generalized to make diagnosing other diseases – possibly even COVID-19 – more accessible as well.
What new antibody studies have identified
“Our research has the potential to make testing these antibodies for various diseases more widely available at care points, such as GP clinics or nursing homes, rather than just in specialized testing centers,” said the lead researcher in Manchester, Aravind Vijayaraghavan.
To do this, Vijayaraghavan and his team had to do two things: cover the graphene with the right materials, measure the amount of MN, and then build a device to actually read the results.
The first was difficult because the ways in which graphene interacts with biomolecules are still poorly understood. Into the research The team, published in Carbon magazine, had to do a lot of things before they could do a specific MN test.
At the time, it turned out that building a new MN test didn’t matter much if the results weren’t more accessible – so they published a the second work in ACS Sensors magazine about their low cost, 3D printed sensor that could read graphene test results in ten minutes.
“A commercial system can cost over £ 50,000 and may not be widely available at the point of care,” co-author Daniel Melendrez said in a statement. “So, we developed a customized QCM system, based on an open-source solution, using all 3D printed parts and electronic circuits with our own design, which costs a hundred times less than the commercial system.”