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Clemson C3B, Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina 29634  College of Engineering & Science  C3B Advisory Board

In vivo Biosensors:
Implantable biosensors for trauma monitoring during mass casualty

C3B researchers are working pertinaciously to develop an implantable biosensor for monitoring lactate and glucose levels.  Funded by the Department of Defense, the goal of this platform project is to develop a temporary implantable biosensor with wireless transmission capabilities.  Packaging a dual sensing element biochip into the biosensor poses significant engineering challenges.  Experiments are being conducted to investigate the amperometric response of the biochip to glucose and lactate, the biocompatibility of hydrogels used for coating the biochip, and the biochip’s performance in laboratory animals.

Research breakthroughs in this platform project area will have prodigious contributions to mass triage scenarios such as battlefields and natural disaster sites by providing a means for medical personnel to make life saving decisions.  The ability to monitor lactate and glucose levels with an implantable biosensor is also important for future applications in diabetes care, transplant organ health, and intensive care.

Cell-Based Sensing:
Cell-based neurotoxicity array biosensor

Cell-based neurotoxicity array biosensors increase testing throughput by providing multiple wells integrated with biosensing elements.  By using an eight-well array system, a scientist can test for the effects of a toxin on eight differentiated cell cultures or eight toxins on a given cell culture.  This platform project also offers researchers an alternative to using live animals in their toxicity investigations by providing differentiated cell cultures as proxies.

Experiments have been conducted on growing and differentiating cell cultures in the arrays, measuring the impedance signatures of various drugs on the cells, and interpreting the results using an artificial neural network. Cell-base sensing provides more reliable information regarding the efficacy of chemicals on cells over time. An important application of this platform project is the detection of toxins associated with biochemical threats.

Electronic NOSE:
Electronic NOSE for trauma monitoring

Of the five human senses, the sense of smell is least understood by scientists and engineers.  Odors can be simply described as chemicals carried in the air. The scientific challenge is to develop a sensing system capable of detecting trace amounts of chemicals that are associated with a particular class of odor. The electronic NOSE (Natural Olfactory Sensor Emulator™) platform project investigates the use of a sensing system along with an artificial neural network to distinguish specific chemicals from certain odors.  An exciting application of the e-NOSE is to determine the physiological status of shock and trauma patients by monitoring their breath for volatile organic compounds.

Experiments are being conducted on the e-NOSE to examine improving sensor performance through design and material selection, characterizing the sensing of various compounds, and developing a neural network that can identify the presence of specific chemicals by analyzing the electrical signals from the sensor array.  Future research breakthroughs in the e-NOSE platform can have important applications in environmental monitoring and homeland security.

Brain Tumor BioChip:
DNA biochips for brain tumor cancer diagnostic and prognostics

This platform project applies DNA microarray technology to the search for improved diagnosis and treatment of brain tumor patients.  DNA microarrays have enabled researchers to study expression profiles of cell populations in far greater detail, with upwards of 30,000 DNA hybridization samples on a standard microscope slide.  Since cancer cells have different expression profiles than normal surrounding tissue, this application of DNA microarray is well suited for identifying a targeted suite of genes associated with brain tumors.

In the U.S. alone, astrocytomas kill about 17,000 brain cancer victims each year.  Current pathological methods for classifying stages of these tumors are subjective and prone to misdiagnosis.  Experiments are being conducted using DNA microarrays to identify a targeted suite of genes associated with astrocytomas that will be used in the Brain Tumor Biochip. Development of a DNA biochip that can delineate the World Health Organization defined classes of astrocytomas for improved diagnostics will lead to improved therapeutic efficacy. Other DNA microarray experiments will be conducted to examine the gene expressions of ovarian and breast cancer tumors. DNA biochips have the potential to revolutionize the way cancer tumors are classified and staged, and to pave the way for targeted gene therapy treatments.

Bioelectronic Devices and Bioelectrochemistry:
Sub-cellular monitoring using nanobiosensors and nanobeacons

Advances in nanotechnology have yielded materials with engineering properties that are of interest to researchers who investigate biosensors.  Incorporating nanoscale materials into biosensors and bioprobes allows researchers to directly monitor and measure their samples at the sub-cellular level.  C3B researchers are investigating the use of carbon nanotubes in a nanobiosensor design with the goal of directly measuring electrochemical reactions without the use of reagents.  Eliminating the need for ancillary reagents such as oxygen will greatly improve the performance of in vivo nanobiosensors and nanobeacons.