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Student team UT in international biosensing competition Virus detection

This year again, a University of Twente student team is participating in the international SensUs Student Competition. This competition involves a biosensing challenge. Participating teams from all over the world spend an academic year developing a solution, which is demonstrated live in Eindhoven.  This year the challenge is a very topical theme: virus detection. The challenge is to develop a biosensor that detects influenza A virus H1N1 in saliva. All teams will demonstrate their sensors in September, and votes of the general public will also count for victory.

The team of the University of Twente, called UT+, is a multidisciplinary team of students coming from different backgrounds. The eight members are bachelor and master students from nanotechnology, technical medicine, health sciences, chemical engineering and international business administration. The project is supervised by dr Pep Canyelles Pericàs, prof. Loes Segerink, prof. Sonia García Blanco, dr Nico Overeem and Raimond Fentrop, and the team is sponsored by UT’s MESA+ Institute.

Virus in saliva

The current pandemic has shown that there is a need for a new generation of tests, capable of detecting a virus fast, on site, with mass screening capabilities and at low cost. This year’s assignment is to develop an innovative biosensor capable of detecting influenza A in saliva at very low concentrations. More specific, it is the H1N1 virus that caused the Spanish Flu (1918) and Mexican flu (2009). 

Photonics

A biosensor is a tiny device that measures the concentration of a specific molecule in the body, a biomarker. It can be used for early detection of cancer, for example. For detecting the virus, the UT team focuses on the principle of a photonic sensor - working with light - with so-called micro-ring resonators. For this, they have established collaborations with several research groups at the UT and with industrial partners. They are also collecting feedback from a variety of stakeholders, such as clinicians, epidemiologists, and feeding the findings into a development plan. 

The SensUs competition is hosted and organized by Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).

Public votes 

September 3, 2021, the team will demonstrate their own biosensor to the world during the SensUs Event of 2021. There are four awards in this competition: Analytical Performance, Creativity, Translation Potential, and Public Inspiration. Later on, the voting procedure will be announced.

The team can be reached through the supervisor Pep Canyelles Pericàs

ir. W.R. van der Veen (Wiebe)
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