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New Non-Plastic Medical Testing Film Developed

Sample of nanofibrillated cellulose film (Vera Adolfi, Aalto University)

Sample of nanofibrillated cellulose film (Vera Adolfi, Aalto University)

Chemical researchers at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland and North Carolina State University in Raleigh developed a testing medium that can make it easier to conduct medical diagnostics in doctors’ offices rather than separate labs. The work of Aalto doctoral candidate Hannes Orelma and colleagues appears online in the journal Biointerphases.

The new testing platform is made from nanofibrillated cellulose, derived from wood fibers, rather than the plastic films now widely used for medical tests. The researchers started with birch pulp, similar to the kind used to make paper, and mechanically disintegrated it into a hydrogel. They removed the water and filtered the gel to reveal the raw nanofibrillated cellulose film.

The raw film can then be treated with substances to make it reflect the properties needed for the tests. The film, for example, can be made to either repel water or absorb water. Likewise it can be infused with antibodies or allergens, as needed, and be configured to detect positively charged molecules. The film offers a high surface area, ability to bond with hydrogen, and mechanical strength, properties helpful for creating diagnostic materials.

Orelma and colleagues also added antibodies to the nanofibrillated cellulose film with ink-jet printing, which demonstrates its potential in manufactured testing products. Chemicals that react by changing colors can be added as well to provide faster results.

The researchers say a testing medium based on nanofibrillated cellulose made from wood fibers is expected to be less expensive and more evironmentally friendly than the current plastic films.

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