Entry Date:
August 17, 2017

Polymer Reaction Engineering for Affordable Medical Diagnostics

Principal Investigator Hadley Sikes

In addition to developing affinity agents better-suited for application in challenging environments, our group is seeking to further improve upon the RDT format by developing a new method of signal amplification for the transduction of positive binding events. Traditional colorimetric signal amplification methods such as enzymatic dye development or nanoparticle concentration are slow, they tend to produce low-contrast results, and they can produce false negative or false positive results if interpreted outside of the ideal time window for test development. In order to improve upon these techniques, our group has developed a novel means of signal read-out, termed photopolymerization-based amplification (PBA). This method, which uses a macrophotoinitiator conjugated to an affinity agent in the place of the dye-cleaving enzyme or gold nanoparticle, gives rise to a polymer film, visible to the unaided eye, upon exposure of a positive test strip to green light. PBA has been shown to yield a high-contrast, rapid, sensitive, and time-decoupled signal read-out, which could further enhance the suitability of RDTs for communities that could benefit. Our design choices made in incorporating PBA into the RDT format are informed by an awareness of the needs of the end-user, as well as a nuanced understanding of the reaction chemistry, developed over the course of studies exploring the capabilities of PBA on numerous surfaces and at varying reaction conditions.