Embracing our aptamers
The hardware is the structure that embraces the aptamer to take it to its maximum potentiality. Without an aptamer, our hardware can barely measure anything, and without the hardware, the aptamer is just another molecule.
The structure of the device has evolved in parallel to the role that the aptamer assumes in the hardware. A good example is how the first prototype has mutated into the final version.
More than a piece of hardware
Depending on the case, a piece of hardware could be only a tool or it could be a bit more than that. When we were brainstorming about how to face the issues related to traditional IoT devices, we concluded that the role of our hardware should walk alongside the aptamer development and integration.
Our first prototype
n our first prototype, the aptamer was just a filter, such that it only trapped the target protein. The role of the hardware was automating the extraction of the target protein from the DNA filter and quantifying the total concentration of the remaining protein at 280nm absorbance, once the pollutants were wiped away.First prototype
The final device
But the concept of “aptamer as a filter” did not last long, as it was not sensitive enough to our purposes. And it evolved towards a different function.
The second prototype demanded a different role for the aptamer. In this new mission, the aptamer was expected to be part of the sensor. It had to adhere to an electrode and obstruct the electrons flow. So the microfluidic chip needed to be adapted to this demand. And thus, the structure of the hardware changed.
In this final version, the device is responsible for pumping a variety of solutions and samples through the chip towards the bound aptamer, collecting the resulting data from the electrode.
The IoT ecosystem
As we required an IoT device, it had to satisfy other functionalities. The key one is to upload the acquired data to a cloud server.
We have also developed an IoT ecosystem that surrounds the device. We have implemented an iOS app to enable the clients to visualize data on a heat map. We have set up a firebase cloud server to gather the data from our sensors, and a PC application to control directly the final device and test our different protocols