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SCALABLE MANUFACTURING OF PRINTED APTASENSORS: DETECTION OF FOODBORNE PATHOGENS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINANTS
The development of low-cost, and reliable platforms for on-site detection of pathogenic agents, and toxic environmental traces is still a critical need for real-time monitoring of potential environmental pollution and imminent outbreaks. The biosensors market is projected to attain 31.5 billion by 2024. In this landscape, colorimetric and electrochemical devices continue to have significant relevance, with paper-based platforms leading the point-of-care (POC) segment for pathogen detection and environmental monitoring.
Despite the true potential of biosensors in general, they have witnessed a slow rate in commercialization, mainly due to cost restrictions, and concerns related to their reliability and repeatability once scaled-up. This research evaluates the implementation of printing techniques as a strong approach for the fabrication of paper-based and flexible electrochemical biosensors. The results obtained demonstrated the ability to control and predict the variables affecting the sensing performance, achieving high precision of the printing parameters, and allowing optimization, and iterations since very early stages of prototype development.
Besides the novel fabrication approach, this work introduces the use of truncated aptameric DNA sequences for whole cell detection of E. coli O157:H7 and heavy metals (Hg2+ and As3+), providing evidence of high stability and robustness under harsh conditions. Results obtained demonstrate their equal or even superior performance when compared to antibodies.
We established the use of aptamer-functionalized multilayered label particles (PEI-grafted gold decorated polystyrene) with high stability as label particles. These particles address the well known drawback of non-selective aggregation typical of traditional naked Gold nanoparticles. The outstanding stability of these multilayered labels was demonstrated when used in an enhanced version of the lateral flow assay for detection of E. coli O157:H7 (state of the art for paper-based colorimetric detection of whole cell bacteria), and in a multiplexed paper-based microfluidic device for dual detection of Mercury and Arsenic. This work sets the foundation of the development of a next generation of health care and environmental monitoring devices that are portable, sensitive, quantitative, and can reliably detect multiple targets with one single test.