The European Research Team at the project launch in DCU (Photograph: Conor McCabe)

BDI Team Leads the Development of Revolutionary Blood Test


A new European collaboration, spearheaded by BDI researcher Dr. Tony Killard, will revolutionize the way blood tests, such as cholesterol, are performed. The team is developing a cholesterol test using the emerging technology of printed electronics.

“Printed electronics will completely change the way we use technology” says Dr. Killard. Also called flexible or plastic electronics, it is already creeping into everyday life. “The latest flat panel televisions are now manufactured using printed conducting plastics which are gradually replacing costly silicon electronics in many applications”.

His team at the BDI, an SFI-funded CSET, have been developing printed biosensors and diagnostics for some years and see the potential of this technology to change the way blood tests are performed. “If you think of someone who currently does a blood test, they need a little sensor strip and a meter to read the measurement. Now, all this will be combined onto a single piece of plastic.”

Dr. Killard is coordinating the collaboration with Irish and other European experts to combine their printed cholesterol sensor with printed batteries and printed digital displays. The device will also be able to talk to a mobile phone to communicate the result to a doctor.

These devices have significant potential for people who live in isolated areas, or who do not have easy access to health care, particularly in the developing world. “These strips don’t need their batteries to be changed or their meters serviced. You simply use the strip, get your result and dispose, or recycle”. He also highlights the low production costs involved as the test strips can be printed in extremely large volumes.

The research is being funded for three years under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme at a value of €2.95 M, of which €1M is going to DCU and its Irish industrial partner Ntera, who develop the printed displays. “This project will make Ireland a serious player in the emerging printed electronics industry which is estimated by some to be worth €300 billion globally by 2030”, he said.


This story is featured in The Irish Times (12th August 2010). The article is available here.