Analysis of saliva through intelligent paper that will allow monitoring of vitamins and nutrients can become a reality in two years. It is at least the conviction of CENIMAT researchers Joana Figueira, Beatriz Coelho and Cristina Gaspar who are leading the Dropplet Runners project.
This year's winner of the international competition INNOFEST, which was held in Finland with 23 ideas in the competition, wants to create a simple, eco-friendly nutrient and vitamin monitoring system.
"Extracting the blood for analysis is a chilling thing, it is invasive, it has a needle involved and it creates fears. Saliva does not. It does not provoke fears and the results turn out to be as good as the blood test, " explains Rodrigo Martins, President of the Department of Materials Science at FCT NOVA where the project is being developed.
Joana Figueira became vegan a few months ago and knows at the outset that the diet is weak in vitamin B12 and that it is advisable to walk attentively, colleague Cristina Gaspar also suffers from deficiency in this vitamin, but is too afraid of needles and assumes that she passes out. The third element, Beatriz Coelho, is completing a PhD in the area of digital microfluidics. The junction of ideas and needs has resulted in this paper that can detect vitamins and nutrients.
The process is simple, collecting saliva, placing drops on paper that with electric tension separates and analyzes the drop and then sends the results to the reader, mechanism that deciphers the conclusions of the paper. "In the process the mechanism and the reader can be the same for any type of analysis, but the paper needs to be prepared for what is sought," explains Joana Figueira.
"The ultimate goal is for the reader to end up being a piece on the mobile phone," says Rodrigo Martins.
With the individual accessibility, the reader in the mobile phone will be able to suggest recipes and scheduling of control analyses depending on the history of each user.