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Partnership to Mass-Produce Graphene Biosensors

Graphene illustration


8 June 2023. A biological testing device company and industrial graphene manufacturer are collaborating on large-scale production of graphene biosensors for widespread use. Financial details of the partnership between Hememics Biotechnologies Inc. in Gaithersburg, Maryland and General Graphene Corp. in Knoxville, Tennessee are not disclosed.

Hememics Biotechnologies designs biological sensing devices using graphene, a material similar to graphite, but with a thickness of one atom, yet some 200 times stronger than steel, which also conducts heat and electricity, as well as absorbs light. Graphene consists of carbon atoms arrayed in an hexagonal honeycomb formation that can be combined with other elements to produce materials taking on graphene’s physical and electronic properties. A number of industries are using graphene in their products, including computer chips, display screens, antennas, energy storage, solar cells, and medical devices. The two British scientists that first isolated graphene received the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics.

Hememics Bio created a process based on research by its president and chief scientist David Ho that desiccates, or removes moisture from biological samples without altering their underlying natural structure. The company says this process makes it possible for sensing devices to read and analyze specimens faster and more accurately than before. Around this process, Hememics is developing a system with miniaturized bio-sensing chips, readers, analytics, and data transfer devices. That system, says the company can be used in handheld portable medical diagnostics, environmental sensing, and pathogen testing systems at the point of care and in the field.

Roll-to-roll manufacturing process

General Graphene is a manufacturer of graphene using an industrial-scale technology with chemical vapor deposition. The company says its process separates carbon from hydrocarbon gases that decompose at high temperature. The separated carbon then accumulates on a metallic foil, with graphene crystals forming and merging together as the foil moves through a roll-to-roll conveyor. General Graphene says this roll-to-roll process, similar to high-volume manufacturing methods for many products, produces high-quality graphene that can be fabricated into single- or multi-layer materials for refinement and use in other industries.

Hememics Bio says it has worked with General Graphene for nine months on developing graphene biosensors in large quantities for a variety of medical, environmental, military, and public safety applications. So far, says Hememics, the collaboration has produced and tested some 100,000 graphene biosensors, including devices that can detect dangerous poisons such as ricin and staphylococcal enterotoxin B or SEB, a bacterial toxin associated with food poisoning. Hememics says the tests show the graphene sensors can identify molecular and antigen evidence in ultra-low picomolar concentrations, and return results in five minutes.

The company says these graphene biosensors can be fabricated into diagnostics devices that detect multiple pathogens in a single blood or saliva sample, at levels 100 times more sensitive than lateral flow methods, such as paper test strips. “In the highly competitive world of diagnostics, speed and cost define whole product categories,” says Ho in a Hememics statement released through Cision. “At single-digit picomolar levels of detection, five-minute test times and non-clean-room manufacturing techniques, we broke through three significant barriers at once.”

The new collaboration with General Graphene is expected to expand the availability and use of graphene biosensors in portable and handheld medical devices, starting with results of the tests conducted by the two companies. “Feedback from these tests,” notes Hememics CEO John Warden, “will help a great deal in furthering products targeted for human trials.”

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