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Diagnoses made easy

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Diagnoses made easy

Diagram of an electrospun fibre mat

Diagram of an electrospun fibre mat (click to see large version)

When it comes to diagnostic tools, it turns out that environmental scientists and medical specialists want the same thing - clean, data rich samples and the technology to analyse those samples quickly and accurately. Electrospun fibre mats, developed by MacDiarmid Institute investigators, will provide just that.

The mats are the brainchild of Principal Investigator Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, Emeritus Investigator Professor David Williams, and Associate Investigator Associate Professor Dr David Barker, all of the University of Auckland.

These surface-grafted mats have negatively charged ‘brushes’ and capture probes made of DNA strands that recognise specific genes. This technology is capable of detecting a whole range of genetic material - from cancer cells in blood, to bacteria and other pathogens in water and food, viruses and much more. It has applications in medical diagnosis, forensic science, and food and water quality testing.

To help commercialise the technology, spinout company Spot Check Technologies was registered in 2017. The company has employed three former MacDiarmid Institute PhD students who are now working on developing portable, cheap gene sensors. These sensors will be similar to glucose testers and could be used in GPs' offices for on-site bacterial tests or by local authorities to test bacterial pollution levels in water.

This is platform technology – it can go in any direction.

Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator University of Auckland

More information

For more information on sensors: Annual Report 2017 - page 10