Team of KL Deemed-to-be University develops first-of-its-kind low-cost, portable, handmade paper sensor to measure Vit-D deficiency

New technology capable of bringing down the testing cost to many folds; offers facility in interior geographies with lesser resources

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KLEF (KONERU LAKSHMAIAH EDUCATION FOUNDATION) KL Deemed-to-be University, one of the leading Universities in the country for graduation and higher education, has developed a unique handmade paper sensor that can measure Vitamin D deficiency with high accuracy. Developed by the team of Dr. Pradeep Kumar Brahman, Department of Chemistry, K L Deemed-to-be University andMs. Tummala Anusha, Research Scholar at the institute’s Andhra Pradesh campus, the sensor is for quick and reliable monitoring of Vit-D. 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.

Simpler resources – Low cost:

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 (Reference and Counter 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 Vit-D concentration. The 3 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 cost of this paper sensor will come to approximately INR 40 to 50, whereas the cost of commercially available tests for Vitamin-D in hospitals and labs is around INR 1500 to INR 2000. 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% which is at par with the existing commercially available tests. The sensor produces results and generates the reports within 30 minutes, saving crucial time for diagnoses.

Importance of Vitamin D: The COVID-19 connection

SARS-CoV-2, the causative pathogen of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, continues to spread worldwide. A study published in the journal Endocrine shows that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization. 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 Vit-D are at higher risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. A recent study has found that almost 70% – 90% of people in India are Vit-D deficient, thereby putting the entire population at risk for lifestyle diseases.

Er. Koneru Satyanarayana, President, K LDeemed-to-be University said, “My compliment to all the faculty, staff and students for developing first-of-its-Kind handmade paper sensor. We encourage our faculty, students, and department to actively participate in research projects in their interest areas. The University believes in facilitating and providing them with ample facilities and a conducive research environment to come out with path-breaking innovative ideas.”

The Team lead on this project, Dr. Pradeep Kumar Brahman, Dept. of Chemistry, K L Deemed-to-be University, “This is possibly the first-of-its-kind and the most affordable Vitamin D deficiency sensor in national and international markets. It will make Vitamin D deficiency testing affordable for cost-conscious countries like India. 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 Vit-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. We are grateful to KL University for providing us with resources that made our work easier. We hope that the product reaches remote areas where Vit-D testing is crucial but unaffordable,” added Ms. Tummala Anusha, Research Scholar at K L Deemed-to-be University who work on the project.

Commenting on the new technical solution, Dr. G.P. Saradhi Varma, In-Charge Vice Chancellor, KL Deemed to be University said, “It pleases me to see that our research faculty are making such innovative advancements and contributing to the field of medical science. Vitamin D deficiency is a crucial factor to address to prevent our nation from becoming a vitamin D deficient population.”

With a strong focus on Research and Innovation, KL Deemed-to-be-University has so far filed for 433 patents and has already been granted 96 out of those. The institute has published 11270 Research papers so far in the fields of science, engineering, humanities and management. The institute has also completed sponsored projects for the worth of INR 32.76 crores and the projects of worth INR 49.33 crores are ongoing.

About KL Deemed-to-be University:

Founded in 1980 as KL College of Engineering, KL Deemed to be University brings today an academic legacy of 40 years. It became Deemed University in 2009 and was accredited by NAAC with A++ grade and Category- I Institution by UGC, MHRD, Govt. of India in 2019. It is ranked 41st in the NIRF 2020 rankings of top Universities of India. K L Deemed University is situated in a spacious 100-acre campus in Vijayawada, and has another world-class campus in Hyderabad. The University boasts of its collaborations with 60+ foreign Universities across 16 countries providing students international exposure through internships and exchange programs.The intellectual resource at University includes 1,200+ faculty members, out of which 600+ faculty members are Ph.D. holders. The University also rejoices an impeccable placement track record of placing 20,000 students in reputed companies so far.