Dr. Limei Tian is developing biosensors to detect biomarkers for an acute kidney injury (AKI), in which the kidneys stop functioning normally. This would involve monitoring the concentration of proteins in urine. While there are established protein biomarkers, the challenge is continuously monitoring them.
The goal of this project is to design a biosensor that detects the concentration and provides an update every 30 minutes, which could provide more timely clinical intervention on the patient’s behalf. The biosensor would be small and, ideally, easily integrated into a catheter or implanted into the bladder. Because the sensor would be designed in a soft electronic format, Tian said the applications for the biosensor extend outside of detecting AKI.
“We are developing an enabling technology not only for this project, but it’s really a platform technology we’re hoping not only revolutionizes disease diagnosis, but general health monitoring.”
One example would be analyzing protein levels in the fluid outside cells, the interstitial fluid. By monitoring concentrations and comparing them to protein levels in the blood, researchers can better measure correlations between the two. Monitoring biomarkers could also lead to better diagnosis and treatment of heart injury and respiratory illnesses.
“With this tool, we can answer those fundamental questions, which can impact many other areas,” Tian said. “That’s what we are excited about. We are developing an enabling technology not only for this project, but it’s really a platform technology we’re hoping not only revolutionizes disease diagnosis, but general health monitoring.”
Dr. Limei Tian recently received the Trailblazer R21 Award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, to support her research developing biosensors.