Biochemical sensors development contract awarded to DoD affiliate

ROCKVILLE, Md. Researchers at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) recently received $1 million from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA, part of the Department of Defense) to advance their work developing wearable sensors that measure biochemical information to diagnose disease.

Graphic courtesy of Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research.

Accessing and analyzing chemical information is the basis of much biological research and biomedical diagnostic testing. A conventional approach involves studying a biological system, identifying an important chemical, and then developing a way to measure it.

Lead researchers propose to start with measurements that can be made quickly on a deployable device. Among those types of measurements, they suggest determining which datasets give valuable information that can be used for basic research and diagnostic development.

Reduction-oxidation (redox) reactions involve the transfer of electrons from one molecule to another. Chemical redox reactions are used by cells for a wide range of biological functions. And, since electronic devices are also based on the movement of electrons, "communication" between biology and a device is possible with the end goal being to determine a person's health status from a rapid redox measurement, researchers say.

The research team plans to collect redox measurements from a variety of biological systems and look for patterns that reveal stable and perturbed states. They will also continue to develop sensors that directly connect biology to electronic circuits. Both of these objectives will be informed by exploration of cellular mechanisms of redox detection and response.