‘Can biomimetic principles coupled with advanced fabrication technologies and stimuli-responsive materials drive revolutionary advances in wearable and implantable biochemical sensors?’
Diamond, Dermot and Florea, Larisa and Dunne, Aishling and Tudor, Alexandru and Ben Azouz, Aymen and Coleman, Simon (2016) ‘Can biomimetic principles coupled with advanced fabrication technologies and stimuli-responsive materials drive revolutionary advances in wearable and implantable biochemical sensors?’. In: Invited Seminar, Tyndall National Institute, 21 Jan 2016, Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Ireland.
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Since the initial breakthroughs in the 1960’s and 70’s that led to the development of the glucose biosensor, the oxygen electrode, ion-selective electrodes, and electrochemical/optochemical diagnostic devices, the vision of very reliable, affordable chemical sensors and bio-sensors capable of functioning autonomously for long periods of time (years), and providing access to continuous streams of real-time data remains unrealized. This is despite massive investment in research and the publication of many thousands of papers in the literature. It is over 40 years since the first papers proposing the concept of the artificial pancreas, by combining the glucose electrode with an insulin pump. Yet even now, there is no chemical sensor/biosensor that can function reliably inside the body for more than a few days, and such is the gap in what can be delivered (days), and what is required (minimum 10 years) for implantable devices, it is not surprising that in health diagnostics, the overwhelmingly dominant paradigm for reliable measurements is single use disposable sensors. Realising disruptive improvements in chem/bio-sensing platforms capable of long-term (months, years) independent operation requires a step-back and rethinking of strategies, and considering solutions suggested by nature, rather than incremental improvements in available technologies.
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