The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a method of using printing technology to produce simple diagnostic tests related to health, well-being and the environment. VTT has demonstrated proof of concept by printing a haemoglobin test - a piece of paper that reveals whether a given sample contains haemoglobin.
The paper is printed with antibodies that react to a sample. The test result can be read in the form of a line, which either does or does not appear depending if the test is postitive or negative. It is also possible to print images or text, either on, or alongside the test advising users how to interpret results.
Printed paper tests can be used to test quickly and easily for the presence of a given substance. While the paper can be manufactured using normal printing equipment, the antibodies which are imprinted require different handling and storage procedures to normal printing inks.
“The ongoing aims of the study are to apply new technology to different samples, and to identify new areas of application. The technology also presents new opportunities in terms of product design in comparison with the traditional diagnostic tests,” said Tomi Erho, who is in charge of the Bioactive Paper project.
Novel products well-suited for mass production can be created by combining biomolecules, paper and print technology. The technology can be applied in rapid diagnostics, or to bring additional features to packaging or labelling. The technology also presents new possibilities for ensuring product authenticity.
The haemoglobin test is part of a series of projects over the period 2007–2011 aimed at developing bioactive paper. The projects are funded primarily by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.
VTT’s partners in R&D work have been the Aalto University, Åbo Akademi University and the University of Lapland. The commercial partners in funding and in the management team have been UPM-Kymmene Corporation, Tervakoski Oy, BASF, Orion Diagnostica Oy, Hansaprint Ltd, Oy Medix Biochemica Ab, Starcke Securities and Eagle Filter Ltd.
For more information, visit the project’s page at: http://www.vtt.fi/references/bio_paper.jsp?lang=en