Scientists have developed a novel biosensor that can detect molecules associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as certain types of cancer.

The device, developed by researchers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) in Brazil, is a single-layer organic nanometre-scale transistor on a glass slide.

It contains the reduced form of the peptide glutathione (GSH), which reacts in a specific way when it comes into contact with the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST), linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, among other diseases.

The GSH-GST reaction is detected by the transistor, which can be used for diagnostic purposes.

The project focuses on the development of point-of-care devices by researchers in a range of knowledge areas, using functional materials to produce simple sensors and microfluidic systems for rapid diagnosis.

"Platforms like this one can be deployed to diagnose complex diseases quickly, safely and relatively cheaply, using nanometre-scale systems to identify molecules of interest in the material analysed," said Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon, Head of LNNano’s Functional Devices and Systems Lab (DSF).