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Scientists Design a Prototype Sensor that Aids in Quick Measurement of ATP and Lactate Levels

Researchers have designed a prototype sensor that can aid doctors in quickly measuring adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and lactate levels present in blood samples of patients. The hope is that this design will help quickly assess the severity of certain diseases.

Scientists Design a Prototype Sensor that Aids in Quick Measurement of ATP and Lactate Levels
The prototype of the ATP and Lactate sensor developed in the study (left); and the integrated sensor chip that detects ATP and Lactate levels (right). Image Credit: Akihiko Ishida.

Hokkaido University researchers and their co-workers have developed a prototype biosensor that identifies levels of lactates and ATP in a patient’s blood, allowing quick diagnosis of the severity of certain diseases. The details were published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

ATP—a molecule found in all living cells—stores and transports energy. In red blood cells (RBCs), ATP is created by a biochemical pathway known as the Embden–Meyerhof pathway. Severe diseases such as multiple sepsis, organ failure, and influenza decrease the quantity of ATP created by red blood cells.

Likewise, the severity of these diseases can be assessed by monitoring the quantity of ATP and lactates present in a patient’s blood.

Ishida and her co-workers at Hokkaido University and Tokushima University designed a biosensor that can identify levels of ATP and lactate present in blood with high sensitivity within five minutes.

The process is simple. To extract ATP from RBCs, chemicals are added to a blood sample. Substrates and enzymes are then added to transform lactate and ATP to the same product that could be identified by specially altered electrodes on a sensor chip.

In 2013, our co-authors at Tokushima University proposed the ATP-lactate energy risk score (A-LES) for measuring ATP and lactate blood levels to assess acute influenza severity in patients. However, current methods to measure these levels and other approaches for measuring disease severity can be cumbersome, lengthy, or not sensitive enough. We wanted to develop a rapid, sensitive test to help doctors better triage their patients.

Akihiko Ishida, Applied Chemist, Hokkaido University

The strength of the current produced at the electrodes is based on the number of by-products existing in the sample.

The team performed simultaneous tests and discovered that other components in blood, such as pyruvic acid, ascorbic acid, urate, adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and potassium ions, do not interfere with the capacity of the electrodes to precisely detect ATP and lactate. Researchers also compared their sensor with those currently available and found it enabled for the relatively straightforward and quick measurement of the two molecules.

We hope our sensor will enable disease severity monitoring and serve as a tool for diagnosing and treating patients admitted to intensive care units.

Akihiko Ishida, Applied Chemist, Hokkaido University

The team's next step is to streamline the measurement process further by combining an ATP extraction method into the chip itself, as well as making the sensor system more compact.

This research was partially supported by the Joint Usage and Joint Research Programs, the Institute of Advanced Medical Sciences, Tokushima University.

Journal Reference:

Nishiyama, K., et al. (2021) Electrochemical enzyme-based blood ATP and lactate sensor for a rapid and straightforward evaluation of illness severity. Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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