At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers have developed a portable detector that can sample blood, saliva, or urine for presence of lead and other heavy metals. This new technology is touted to allow the development of cheaper and smaller devices that should lead to wider sampling of the population.
"We need next-generation analyzers to reduce the time and lower the costs of analysis for clinical diagnosis," said PNNL scientist and principal investigator Wassana Yantasee. "They will help us better understand the relationship between the exposure to these toxins and how the body responds, which will help in developing new strategies to reduce exposures and risks."
"Our research has focused on optimizing the sensor systems to work with the biological complexities in blood, urine and saliva samples," said Yantasee. "Validation of these sensor platforms for use in biomonitoring is particularly important in developing a personalized exposure assessment strategy."
The device can use two classes of sensors for detecting lead and other heavy metals. The first is based on a flow injection system using a mercury-film electrode to analyze metals in blood, urine or saliva samples.
To eliminate the use of toxic mercury in conducting the analysis, the second class of the sensor uses a mercury-free approach of nanostructure materials developed at PNNL. This involves use of either Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports – SAMMS™ technology – or functionalized magnetic nanoparticles that provide excellent detection sensitivity at a parts-per-billion level.
Press release: New sensor system improves detection of lead, heavy metals