Nanotechnology diagnostics

Alberto Escarpa


    Alberto Escarpa


    Universidad de Alcalá, Spain


    The incidence of late-onset sepsis (LOS) in Spain for low birth weight neonates is around 30%, representing a significant challenge for intensive care units. LOS can occur 72 hours after birth and is usually caused by a healthcare-acquired infection. Early diagnosis is paramount, but it is difficult to achieve for both technical and biological reasons.

    To develop a portable lab-on-a-chip (LOC) device based on nanomaterials to make LOS diagnosis quicker and more efficient.

    Problem to Solve
    Early detection of LOS in low birth weight infants is highly complicated for several reasons, mainly because similar symptoms could have a non-infectious cause, but also due to the absence of optimal diagnostic tools. Blood cultures, for example, take 24 to 48 hours to produce results. Infant patients also have both low blood volume and are susceptible to a low infectious dose. In addition, current strategies to detect LOS as quickly as possible show low sensitivity and specificity.

    An LOC system that combines the advantages of nanomaterials with the sensitivity of immunodiagnostics could achieve early detection of LOS in neonates. The device could quickly and accurately analyse the most effective biomarkers when there is a suspected infection, making it easier to take clinical decisions.

    Level of Innovation
    An LOC device would result in a reduced overall analysis time, in the use of reagents, and in smaller blood samples taken from neonates, making it a cheaper, quicker and more accurate solution.