‘Lab-On-A-Glove’ Could Bring Nerve-Agent Detection To Your Fingertips

Printable, stretchable sensors on protective gloves can detect organophosphate nerve agents and pesticides. Credit: American Chemical Society

Researchers have developed a fast way to detect the presence of organophosphate nerve agents in the field using a disposable “lab-on-a-glove.”

Highly toxic nerve agents, such as sarin and VX, can prevent the nervous system from working properly. Organophosphate pesticides are far less potent but work in a similar way and can cause illness in people who are exposed to them, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Detecting either type of these sets of compounds accurately and quickly could help improve both defense and food security measures.

The new wearable, flexible glove biosensor carries out the sampling and electrochemical biosensing steps on different fingers, with the thumb finger used for collecting the nerve-agent residues and an enzyme immobilized on the index finger.

The researchers created stretchable inks to print the collection and sensing elements on these fingers. Detection of the collected residues is performed when the thumb touches the printed enzyme-based organophosphate biosensor on the glove index finger. So, a user would swipe the thumb of the glove on a surface for testing, then touch the thumb and index fingers together for the electrochemical analysis.

For real-time results, the voltammetric data are sent via a reusable Bluetooth device on the back of the glove to a user’s mobile device. Testing showed that the glove could detect organophosphate pesticides methyl parathion and methyl paraoxon on various surfaces — including glass, wood and plastic — and on produce. The researchers say the sensor could be used in both security and food safety settings.

The research was supported with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

Read more at ACS Sensors: Wearable Flexible and Stretchable Glove Biosensor for On-Site Detection of Organophosphorus Chemical Threats.

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