Glasgow's SensUs team compete in global biosensing competition

Issued: Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:00:00 BST

This weekend 10 teams of university students from around the world traveled to Eindhoven (Netherlands) to compete in the 2nd SensUs event, a yearly international student competition on sensors for health. A competition for students, by students, organised by a team of TU Eindhoven throughout the year. By involving students, industry, and academia it strives to accelerate the development of sensors for health for a better future.

The multidisciplinary 'Glasgo' team, comprising 11 students from across the University of Glasgow (from the colleges of Science and Engineering, Life Sciences and Social Sciences), from year 3 undergraduates to MSc students in Biomedical Engineering presented their prototypes to a crowd of more than 9 other teams (from Europe, USA and Egypt), and the judges (including the University advisors and stakeholders such as patients representatives, doctors and nurses).

During this year’s edition of SensUs, students were tasked to make the best biosensor for NT-proBNP, a key indicator of heart failure. Their biosensors were judged on multiple criteria such as performance, user-friendliness, and industry potential. 

The sensor from the Glasgow team used an innovative combination of acoustic sensing (where sound waves propagating on surfaces can sense molecules deposited on these surfaces), magnetic beads sample preparation (and signal enhancement), and microfluidics, in an integrated cartridge comprising all the necessary components to carry out the test (e.g. embarked reagents, electronics). All teams were pitted against each other by being asked to measure an unknown concentration of the biomarker in small volumes of serum on the spot (in less than 15min) in Eindhoven. 

The team, supported by Dr Julien Reboud and many staff from the School of Engineering, then presented their biosensors to the public (who could also vote for an award), who were wooed by Glasgo's interpretive dance choreography to explain the functionlities of their sensor. Their performance throughout the week-end was very well received, testament of all the hard work that the team put throughout the year and more particularly through the summer. 

Glasgow will participate again in SensUs 2018, with the aim to detect and measure vancomycin at the point of care, an antimicrobial agent with a critical window of operation. Its use has been linked to potential for drug resistance and being able to measure its concentration in blood rapidly at the point of care would have the potential to enable better, more effective treatment, thus reducing the possibilities for resistance to develop. Applications for SensUs 2018 will be sought in October 2017.