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Diagnosing Diseases Using A Sugar Run Cell

A team of researchers from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at WSU developed one of the most amazing sensors. With Sudhanshu Gupta, an assistant professor, as the leader, the team made a biofuel cell that can be implanted in the body. The cell that runs on power supplied by sugar in the blood is used to detect, diagnose and prevent diseases. Primarily, it uses glucose already present inside a body to monitor the biological signals which alert the wearer of the presence or absence of a condition.
How does the cell work? It is the inclusion of electronics to the biofuel cell that gives it the power to process biochemical and physiological signals in a way we can understand. So why is the sensor so unique? At present, the market is full of sensors that detect diseases, but they are mostly watches or patches. These devices are superficial. They have to be worn on the body and need to be recharged regularly. The unique sensor that the WSU has built is on that can be embedded.

Think of a diabetes patient who has to prick a finger every few days to test for sugar levels, this sensor takes away this painful and tedious process. The biofuel cell, on the other hand, harvests bodily fluids to generate power. It means there is no need to charge the sensor again and again. The electronic part of the device is powered indefinitely by fluids like blood glucose. The cell can be put just under the skin, and it can run forever on the lactate present there.

Using a unique integration system and top-class design, the biofuel cell utilizes only a tiny amount of power. It is so sensitive that it needs only microwatts to detect signals, unlike battery-run devices that pull more energy. The efficiency of power is just one more advantage of the biosensor. Another one is its non-toxicity. Because it doesn’t use lithium-ion batteries like other sensors, it can be safely implanted in a person without any risk of harm.

The team was not going to stop at just three leverages – safety, efficiency and bio-fuelled. They also made the sensor more stable than other biofuel cells and more sensitive. Right now the device has been tested in lab conditions. The researchers are working on getting approval from regulators to experiment it on blood capillaries. The next step they hope to take is to improvise on the device and escalate its power output. The scientists also believe that the innovation can be manufactured at a low cost by mass producing it.
By leveraging the scale of economies, they bring to the world a new era of hope. Highly sophisticated electronic technology merged with biofuel cells is a first in the field. If it works in real life, then this combination can be put to work on many, many applications. Applications that, if successful, will make everyday life of humans more comfortable, healthier and longer.

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