29 Aug 2021 13:38 IST

KLU researchers develop paper sensors to find Vitamin D-deficient

The paper sensors cost ₹40 to ₹50 and generates the report within 30 minutes.

KL Deemed-to-be University (KLU) has developed a handmade paper sensor to measure vitamin D deficiency with high accuracy. It is developed by Dr Pradeep Kumar Brahman, Department of Chemistry, K L University and team, and Tummala Anusha, research scholar at the institute’s Andhra Pradesh campus. The sensor is for quick and reliable monitoring of vitamin D.

The cost of the paper sensor is ₹40 to ₹50. The commercially available vitamin D in hospitals and labs cost ₹1,500 to ₹2,000. The sensor produces results and generates the reports within 30 minutes, saving crucial time for diagnoses.

This technology can lead smaller clinics, dispensaries in remote areas, medical facilities in geographically inaccessible locations, and smaller facilities to now measure vitamin D deficiencies without any bulky equipment or labs. TThis work was recently published in the Microchemical Journal, Elsevier, a statement from the institute, said.

How it works

The sensor is developed by designing a paper electrode in a specific dimension and printing the patterned electrode on an A4 photocopy paper with a specially designed ink — conductive ink — that includes cobalt-silver doped copolymer-ionic liquid and acts as a sensor to detect vitamin D deficiency. The strip, along with two common electrodes is then dipped in the patient’s serum sample containing electrolyte solution in a voltametric cell.

An amperometric measurement is recorded at a constant potential. The obtained current corresponds to the level of vitamin D concentration. Three electrodes are connected to a Potentiostat, which is further connected to a monitor on which the lab technician can view the results of the vitamin D sensor.

The team at KL University has further tested the proof-of-concept with several real-life samples and concluded that the accuracy of this sensor is at over 94 per cent which is at par with the existing commercially available tests.

Covid and vitamin deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency has been recently postulated to be a factor associated with an increased risk of a poor prognosis in Covid-19. Experts say that individuals with lower levels of vitamin D are at higher risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. A recent study has found that almost 70 per cent to 90 per cent of people in India are vitamin D deficient.

Koneru Satyanarayana, President, K L University said, “My compliment to all the faculty, staff, and students for developing first-of-its-kind handmade paper sensor. The University believes in facilitating and providing them with ample facilities and a conducive research environment to come out with innovative ideas.”

The team lead on this project, Dr Pradeep Kumar Brahman, said: “We took 2 years to finish the research and come up with this pioneering product. This handmade sensor is accurate and reliable for the monitoring of vitamin D deficiency in remote areas where limited resources are available.”

“Indians usually do not get tested for vitamin D deficiency as it does not produce visible symptoms. After observing the growing concern of vitamin D deficiency scenario in the country, for the first time, we designed a portable and low-cost handmade paper sensor that can effectively diagnose vitamin D deficiency in clinical samples,” added Tummala Anusha.