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Development of a sensor for drug testing

Introduction

Medication adherence refers to whether individuals take their medications as prescribed by their physician. Medication non-adherence problem affects not only the individuals but also the health care system.(1) Non-adherent individuals often fail to start taking their pills, fail to take the correct dose, or stop taking pills before completing the treatment. According to the WHO, only half (and down to 4%) of patients with chronic illnesses (such as obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary syndrome, psychological disorders, etc.) take their medications regularly.(2)

A commonly used technique for direct assessment of medication adherence is the automatic medication event monitoring systems, which are electronic pill holders sending reminders to individuals to take pills and logging the pill taking events.(3) Other techniques include observed therapy or measurement of biological markers added to the drug formulation from the blood. While the individuals tend to ‘snooze’ the notifications of electronic pill holders or manage to place fake pills instead of the prescribed ones, measurement of biological markers requires to convince the individuals to go to a hospital or a controlled analysis laboratory, where high operation costs and the need for dedicated tools arise as a problem.

Using microfluidics, we can monitor colorimetric changes created by the presence of medicinal metabolites in functionalized hydrogels.(4) A quantitative analysis of such changes enables the detection of target markers along with supporting cues.

 Assignment

The goal of this project is to develop a microfluidic sensing system to capture target molecules are produced as a result of metabolized medicines in the body. The project consists of several steps including, (1) investigation of the drug metabolites and sensing molecules giving colorimetric reactions upon exposure, (2) integration of the sensing molecules into the microfluidic system, (3) improvement of the system for optimal results. The model study from Koh et al. (5) could be considered as a starting point for this project.

 Background

We are looking for enthusiastic students with a background in engineering or nanotechnology and a good understanding of chemistry.

 References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191684/
  2. World Health Organization (2003) Adherence to long term therapies: Evidence for action. Available at https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/adherence_report/en/
  3. Abderrahman, B. (2017). Health literacy, medication adherence and thriving healthcare systems: connecting the dots. Clinical Pharmacology, 9(11), 322-24.
  4. https://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/Screening_Colour_Test_ATS.pdf
  5. Koh, A., Kang, D., Xue, Y., Lee, S., Pielak, R. M., Kim, J., ... & Manco, M. C. (2016). A soft, wearable microfluidic device for the capture, storage, and colorimetric sensing of sweat. Science translational medicine, 8(366), 366ra165-366ra165.

Contacts

Dr. Burcu Gumuscu, b.gumuscu