A team of scientists from EPFL have recently developed a new optical nanotube sensor using the synthetic biology, which enhances their sensing capabilities in the complex biofluids, including urine and blood. This study has been published in the Journal of Physics Chemistry Letters. Biosensors are devices that will be able to detect biological molecules in water, air, or blood. Optical nanotube sensor are being used in medical diagnostics, drug development, and biological research. The rising need for real-time and continuous monitoring of biomarkers in diseases such as diabetes is of one of the major factors that is projected to accelerate the growth of the developing portable and efficient biosensor devices.
Some of the most potential optical nanotube sensors that are currently being developed are made making use of single-walled carbon nanotubes. The near-infrared light emission of the carbon nanotubes lies among the optical transparency window of biological materials. This refers to blood, water, and tissue, in addition with the skin that does not absorb the released light and make these biosensors absolutely perfect for the implantable sensing applications. As a result, these sensors can be further put underneath the skin of the optical signal, which can be further detected without the requirement to have electrical contacts piercing through the surface.
On the other hand, the omnipresence of salts in biofluids offers a pervasive challenge in the designing the implantable devices. The significant changes in the salt concentrations that naturally occur in the human body that have been showcased to affect the selectivity and sensitivity of the optical sensors. These sensors are based on single-walled carbon nanotubes, which are wrapped in with the single-stranded DNA. To overcome the challenges, the tea, of researchers are focusing on developing a stable optical nanotube sensors making use of synthetic biology.