Despite the vast numbers of papers published, the field of biosensors may be viewed to date as comprising essentially two broad categories of instrumentation: 1) sophisticated, high-throughput laboratory machines capable of rapid, accurate and convenient measurement of complex biological interactions and components; 2) Easy-to-use, portable devices for use by non-specialists for decentralised, in situ or home analysis. The former are expensive and the latter are mass produced and inexpensive. Biosensors find application in medicine, pharma, food and process control, environmental monitoring, defence and security, but most of the market of over US$13 billion is driven by medical diagnostics and, in particular, glucose sensors for people with diabetes. The most significant trends likely to impact on biosensors in the near future are the emergence of personalised medicine and personal medical accounts. These will drive demands for a new generation of consumer diagnostics. Electrochemical biosensors still dominate the field, but are focussed mainly on metabolite monitoring, while bioaffinity monitoring has been carried out principally using optical techniques. However, both transducers find utility across the whole spectrum of applications. The emergence of label-free electrochemical techniques promises to broaden the applicability of this inexpensive transduction platform, while low-cost cameras in mobile phones and notebooks could facilitate more widespread application of optical techniques. The emergence of semi-synthetic and synthetic receptors is yielding more robust, versatile and widely applicable sensors, while nanomaterials are facilitating highly sensitive and convenient transduction of the resulting binding and catalytic events. Escalating healthcare costs together with consumer demand, will stimulate a new generation of inexpensive wearable, integrated and less-invasive sensors amenable to mass production, in order to support the maintenance of wellbeing, care of the elderly, pharmaceutical development and testing, and distributed diagnostics. One vision of the future to satisfy this insatiable demand is that of the fully-integrated, fully-printable biosensing device, reliably manufactured as easily as the RFID tag that is ubiquitous in our chain stores. By fusing printing technology with organic electronics and molecular sensors, we are witnessing the emergence of a revolutionary consumer diagnostic.
Oxford: Elsevier, 2013.
Label-free electrochemical sensors; plastic antibodies; printed sensors; organic electronics
3rd International Conference on Bio-Sensing Technology , Sitges, Spain, 12-15 May 2013