The collaboration with RMIT builds on that breakthrough, with the aim of developing a point-of-care device to test for these biomarkers and produce results within minutes.
Led by Bansal and cell biologist Dr Ravi Shukla, scientists at RMIT’s Ian Potter NanoBiosensing Facility have already developed a proof-of-concept sensor coated with special nanoparticles.
The sensor can reliably detect the presence of select biomarkers, changing colour if a particular molecule is present in the blood.
The next stage is working with the engineers at the Micro Nano Research Facility (MNRF) to expand the sensor’s capabilities and miniaturise it onto a microfluidic chip about the size of a postage stamp.
A microfluidic chip contains tiny channels and pumps that can precisely control fluid. While blood is notoriously difficult to handle in microfluidic systems, RMIT researchers have pioneered technology that avoids the need for special processing.
MNRF Director, Professor Arnan Mitchell, said the final result would be a simple and reliable tool for health professionals.
“The prototype we’re building will be able to analyse just a pin-prick of blood from a patient and provide a score that indicates the risk of Type 1 diabetes,” Mitchell said.
“The ultimate aim is to be able to slow or prevent the onset of Type 1 Diabetes. The test could also significantly boost the development of therapies to prevent or delay the disease.
“We know the separate components of the device work, so now the challenge is to bring the sensor and the chip together into one easy-to-use device.”
The research is supported through over $AU1.2 million in funding from The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust, one of the largest medical research-funding philanthropic trusts in the world.
The funding grant is administered by JDRF Australia, the nation’s the peak body supporting research into Type 1 Diabetes.