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Helping mitigate some of the most common ailments of these modern times, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, is the recently inaugurated Amrita Biosensor Research Lab at the Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore.The state-of-the-art research facility is part of the Department of Sciences at the campus.

“Currently the core area of research of our team, consisting of chemists, biologists, biomedical and electronic engineers as well as physicians, is the development of low cost biosensors for monitoring blood sugar and cholesterol levels,” shares Dr. T. G. Satheesh Babu, Assistant Professor in the Department.

“Monitoring the functioning of other internal organs such as kidneys will be another focal field of investigation,” he adds.

The high-tech lab is equipped with sophisticated instruments including an Atomic Force Microscope – AFM-STM (Park Systems, Korea), Electrochemical Workstation (CHI 660C, CH Instruments, Texas, USA), Electrochemical Analyser (CHI 608D spl), UV-Vis Spectrophotometer (Pharmaspec 1700, Schimadzu) and Biospectrometer (Eppendorf, Germany).

There is a Millipore water purification system procured from Germany and other general equipment required for routine nanomaterial synthesis and molecular biology experiments.

Among the new research lab’s collaborative partners are the Amrita Bio-Medical Engineering Center (AMBE) and the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering on the same campus as well as the Amrita School of Biotechnology in Amritapuri.

The same partners have collaborated before to bring about an important innovation – nanomaterial-based and highly sensitive non-enzymatic sensors and glucometers for the testing of blood glucose levels. Since no enzymes are involved in the fabrication process, the sensors’ stability is enhanced and the price significantly reduced.

“We are also in the process of developing low cost sensors for monitoring HbA1c, or glycated hemoglobin, also related to diabetes, as well as creatinine levels involved in the estimation of renal function. In addition, we have begun research for the development of sensors that will enable early detection of cancers and genetic disorders; these are based on DNA and immunosensing principles,” shares Dr. Babu.

He further explains: “For the simultaneous determination of a number of biomolecules, so-called lab-on-a-chip platforms are being developed. Lab-on-a-chip is a small device which incorporates a number of biosensors. In this way, one single device can detect the concentration of various biomolecules such as glucose, cholesterol, creatinine, etc. in the blood. With one device, patients themselves can test their blood in their homes without having to go to a clinical lab. This will obviously improve the quality of life of the patients.”

July 27, 2012
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

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