Cybernose and cybertongue technologies: a microfluidic sensing platform

Dacres H1, Gel M2, Wang J1, Caron K1, Anderson A1 and Trowell S1

  1. CSIRO Health & Biosecurity.
  2. CSIRO Manufacturing.

Objective quantitative measures of chemical composition are invaluable in many spheres of human activity, from healthcare to industrial processing. A number of very sophisticated analytical methods have been developed, for separating and identifying chemicals, including chromatography and mass spectroscopy. The sensitivity, resolving power and user-friendliness of these technologies are spectacular. However, these existing methods are, in general, expensive, slow and not very portable. They may generate large amounts of data, requiring time and expertise to interpret. Therefore they have not been widely adopted outside research or analytical laboratory environments. To allow chemical analysis to be easily carried out in “real world” situations, there is a need for faster and more portable methods that can be used by non-specialists. Highly evolved chemical senses are critical for the survival of most modern day organisms. We have drawn inspiration from biological systems to develop a sensitive, fast and easy-to-use chemical analyser. The CYBERTONGUE/NOSE biosensing platform can measure a wide range of analytes, continuously and rapidly. The platform’s essential features are that: (1) it uses bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) as the transduction modality; (2) it incorporates multiple classes of biological recognition elements and, within each class, many variants are possible; (3) it works in the fluid phase of a multiplexed microfluidic system. I will describe the technical basis of the technology and illustrate it with applications in food and health diagnostics.