The current state of global health is a matter of urgent concern, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With new and emerging health threats, it is crucial to have the proper tools that can quickly and accurately detect, diagnose, and surveil diseases. Technological advancements like biosensors might have the potential to help with that. Biosensors are new devices that can be used for qualitative and quantitative testings of various samples–clinical, environmental, and agricultural. Biosensors are more sensitive and specific than traditional diagnostic methods, portable, and can rapidly provide results. The device is able to do so by utilizing biological agents as receptors, like enzymes, whole cells, nucleic acids (DNA or RNA), and monoclonal antibodies. The bioreceptors work to detect the target analyte. As the bioreceptor and analyte reacts, consequently, the transducer will convert the biochemical response into an electrical signal. The signal strength is determined by the analyte concentration.
In One Health concept, biosensors can be useful for several purposes: research, diagnostics, and surveillance. The information can be used to identify, monitor, and surveil infectious diseases, like zoonosis. For animal health, biosensors can be used to detect pathogens in farm animals and livestock products such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and Toxoplasma gondii from their fecal samples. Some scientists have tried utilizing biosensors to detect the mentioned pathogens directly in the slaughterhouses, like using aptamer-based biosensors to detect S. enteritidis. Another possible application of biosensor in animal health is detecting volatile organic compounds in the animals’ breath, like ketones and ethanol that signals a high blood glucose level. This is known for its ability to detect foot and mouth disease (FMD), bovine tuberculosis, and brucellosis. One detailed example is using an immunochromatographic platform to detect antibodies against FMD proteins. Moreover, it might help tackle the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) issue, a global public health threat that is caused by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human and animal healthcare. Biosensors can detect the presence of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in specimens from animals, humans, or the environment.
Its application is not limited to infectious diseases, biosensors can also be used to help with diabetes mellitus. A group of scientists provided their research of a smart toilet equipped with biosensors, enabling it to detect glucose level in the urine. The result was truly groundbreaking, it has a 96% specificity level, and needs only around 11 minutes for the whole process. This helps citizens at detecting their blood sugar level, therefore when it gets alarming, they can seek professional help immediately. It suffices to say that the potential benefits of biosensors for One Health are significant.
Despite its wide application, there are still challenges to tackle. First, biosensors need further development to enhance their ability to detect analytes in complex samples filled with a variety of pollutants, as well as various organic and inorganic substances. It should also be able to withstand different environmental conditions. Although it is promised to be a cost-effective device, the process of developing and making the device itself is very expensive, and time-consuming. Therefore, a more affordable alternative is needed which can be done by using more sustainable materials. Developing biosensors needs interdisciplinary collaboration between sectors and fields, like engineering, chemistry, environmental, biology, and veterinary and human medicines. It is to ensure that biosensors are effective, accurate, and applicable in a variety of laboratory settings.
In conclusion, biosensors have an important role in laboratory settings for One Health. As the world continues to face new and emerging health threats, the potential of biosensors to revolutionize disease detection and monitoring cannot be understated. While there are still challenges to be addressed, the benefits of biosensors for One Health are too significant to be ignored. By enabling more rapid and accurate disease detection, biosensors can help save lives, protect ecosystems, and promote the health and well-being of all species.
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