Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a bio-sensor device to check cholesterol levels in blood in a matter of two or three minutes flat.
Estimation of cholesterol concentration in blood is critical for the diagnosis of a number of disorders, as elevated levels of cholesterol are associated with heart diseases, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cerebral thrombosis. On the other hand, decreased levels may result in hyperthyroidism and anaemia.
So, how does this device work? Dr BD Malhotra, who heads the Bio-Molecular Electronics and Conducting Polymers Research Group of the NPL — which has developed the device — told the Hindustan Times: “We have designed an opto-electronics cholesterol meter indigenously and have also developed a bio-sensing paper strip.” To get the cholesterol estimation, the disposable paper strip is inserted in the slot of the opto-electronic device on which a drop of blood drawn from the finger is put, Malhotra said.
When the paper strip, which contains immobilized cholesterol-sensing protein molecules, is brought in contact with the blood serum, an automatic bio-chemical reaction takes place, resulting in the white paper strip changing colour and turning brown.”
The intensity of the colour would depend on the concentration of cholesterol in the blood serum. If it is a very dark brown, it would mean that the level of cholesterol is high,” Malhotra explained.
The magnitude of intensity, he said, is picked up by the opto-electronic device, which converts it into digital signal and displays the cholesterol concentration in blood serum in numerals, he added.
The technology has been developed after five years of research, with the help of a Rs 45-lakh grant from the Department of Biotechnology, Malhotra said.
Efforts are now being made to develop bio-sensors for the estimation of lipoproteins, he added.