Oxygen Sensing Nanofibers

Nanofibers designed to quantify the oxygen content of a local environment for cell cultures and tissue-based applications such as a wearable technology wirelessly integrated into an electronic device used to estimate the efficiency of an individual's oxygen consumption.

The Need

Measurements of growth and activity of living cells are advantageous in a wide array of applications. Such measurements can be used to track tissue regeneration, phenotypic change, localized hypoxia, the testing and development of antibiotics and much more (Maria Strianese et al., Scott Lynn et al.). Growth and activity measurements typically acquired by such as microscopy and plate counting are tedious and slow. A more efficient technique allowing measurement of cell vitality and growth is by oxygen quantification. Since oxygen is one of the substrates in aerobic respiration, the measurement of oxygen content in specific environments is an indication of metabolic activity (Maria Strianese et al.). Though some oxygen sensing devices have been commercialized they are typically too expensive or bulky for routine use and simpler measurements of oxygen detection are desired.

The Market

  • This technology has many potential applications including:Tissue engineering; Stem cell culture monitoring; Tissue regeneration in vitro; Cancer cell interrogation; Cancer research; Cell cultures; Monitoring developing tissue in vivo
  • This technology has the potential to become a leader in oxygen sensing devices because it is the only product that can have the oxygen-sensing elements built into the bottom of the plate without any adverse effects on adherent cell layers.
  • The global market for sensors was valued at $79.5 billion in 2013 and is expected to increase to $86.3 billion in 2014, $95.3 billion in 2015, and to nearly $154.4 billion by 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1% over the five-year period from 2015 through 2020. (BCC Research)
  • Biosensors and chemical sensors are expected to total $19 billion by 2015. With a CAGR of 11.5%, BCC Research expects this segment to reach nearly $32.8 million by 2020. (BCC Research)

The Technology

The Ohio State University researchers, led by Dr. John Lannutti, developed nanofibers that can rapidly (~0.2 s) quantify the oxygen content of a local environment such as a cell culture with a very high degree of accuracy (R^2>0.99) without observable photobleaching. These fibers distinguish themselves from standard approaches as they contain a layer that prevents any sensing compounds from leaching into the local environment without inhibiting oxygen diffusion while also containing a biodegradable polymer. The polymer increases the bio-compatibility of the device so that it can be used to detect oxygen levels in vivo as well as in vitro. This product has been used with multiple different imaging systems including fluorescence, confocal, and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, the latter providing measurements at spatial resolutions as small as 159 nm.

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