The printing and patterning of proteins is an established field and printed proteins are used in a wide range of applications including smart packaging and indicators, 3d printing of biological materials, drug delivery and diagnostic testing. Antibodies are routinely used in diagnostic testing and in the manufacturing of biodevices and biosensors. Such testing is routinely carried out in laboratories by skilled technical staff and this process can be costly and time consuming.
Swansea scientists and engineers are using the latest printing technologies to advance a low-cost biosensor capable of diagnosing a range of health conditions. The antibodies are placed into a suitable ink which allows them be printed onto a compatible substrate or material to form a disposable sensor, capable of being mass produced at low cost. With this technology, antibodies are patterned onto flexible plastic films using the flexographic process so that reel to reel printing may be used. A nitrocellulose coating is used to enhance both binding with the surface and print definition. The ability to deposit arrays of antibodies using this process greatly increases the speed of production compared to current processes.
The technology provides a low cost disposal assay technology. These faster patterning methods can be used for applications such as enzyme immunoassay (ELISA) and biosensors and will aid in early diagnosis of disease and facilitate cost effective health management. It offers advantages in that a broader base of rheological properties and suitable additives can be included. The technology is predictable and has a higher print speed whilst maintaining bioavailability of the antibody.
It is envisaged that manufacturing printed lateral flow and ELISA tests are the best market sub sectors for this technology. A printed array of antibodies speeds up the testing process while reducing the expertise and complexity of equipment needed, introducing the possibility of hand held electronic scanners and quicker diagnosis. Furthermore, this process could be easily adapted for printing of other biological materials, including, but not limited to, enzymes, DNA, proteins, aptamers, and cells.
A patent has been filed by Swansea University and filed under GB 1202261.2
Inventors: Christopher Phillips & Sridhar Govindarajan