A plug-and-play, easy-to-manufacture fluidic accessory to significantly enhance the sensitivity of electrochemical immunoassays

Dobrea, Alexandra and Hall, Nicole and Milne, Stuart and Corrigan, Damion K. and Jimenez, Melanie (2024) A plug-and-play, easy-to-manufacture fluidic accessory to significantly enhance the sensitivity of electrochemical immunoassays. Scientific Reports, 14 (1). 14154. ISSN 2045-2322 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-64852-5)

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Abstract

Earlier access to patients’ biomarker status could transform disease management. However, gold-standard techniques such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are typically not deployed at the point-of-care due to their cumbersome instrumentation and complexity. Electrochemical immunosensors can be disruptive in this sector with their small size and lower cost but, without further modifications, the performance of these sensors in complex media (e.g., blood) has been limited. This paper presents a low-cost fluidic accessory fabricated using widely accessible materials and processes for boosting sensor sensitivity through confinement of the detection media next to the electrode surface. Liquid confinement first highlighted a spontaneous reaction between the pseudoreference electrode and ELISA detection substrate 3,3’,5,5’-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) that decreases the amount of oxTMB available for detection. Different strategies are investigated to limit this and maximize reliability. Next, flow cell integration during the signal amplification step of sensor preparation was shown to substantially enhance the detection of cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) with the best sensitivity boost recorded for fresh human plasma (x7 increase compared to x5.8 in purified serum and x5.5 in PBS). The flow cell requires no specialized equipment and can be seamlessly integrated with commercial sensors, making an ideal companion for electrochemical signal enhancement.