Research by biomedical engineering undergrad selected to appear in Texas A&M journal

Poorman, MeganCOLLEGE STATION, Texas, May 10, 2013 – Megan Poorman, an undergraduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, is having her research on transforming red blood cells into sensors for blood-analysis published by the Texas A&M journal “Explorations.”

Poorman, a junior from Plano, Texas is working with Associate Professor Kenith Meissner on a project aimed at inserting sensor chemistry inside red blood cells to provide various blood analysis readings while overcoming compatibility issues between implanted sensors and the human body. Her work could represent a minimally invasive alternative to the traditional drawing of blood for analysis – something that can be tedious and painful for individuals who require constant blood analysis, such as those suffering from diabetes. 

Her article, “Developing Minimally-invasive biosensors from Fluorescent Dye and Red Blood Cells,” details the sensing technology she is developing, which incorporates Fluorescein-based fluorescent dyes as sensing molecules.

The article will appear in the next issue of the annual Texas A&M journal. The student-run journal selects and publishes student-authored articles of general interest across a variety of disciplines. The journal, which is guided by faculty and administrators, accepts less than 20 percent of submitted proposals after a rigorous two-round review process by faculty-student teams. 

In addition, Poorman also has been recognized for her research at the “Present Around the World” competition, sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), receiving top honors for her presentation detailing the work. As a first-place winner, she advances to the next stage of the competition, which is part of the IET Volunteers Conference in Toronto, August 9-11th.

The dyes used in the sensing technology, Poorman explains, emit light in direct proportion to the pH of the surrounding environment when excited by a laser. By shining light of a certain wavelength on the red blood cells containing the dye and measuring the intensity of the light emitted, an accurate reading of the environmental pH can be obtained, she notes.

Once the modified red blood cells are implanted in the body, a patient or physician could simply use a calibrated device to shine light on the body in an area where the skin is thin, such as the inside of the wrist, Poorman says. The user could then obtain a reading based on the light collected by the device. This reading could then be displayed on the device, stored for tracking or sent to a remote location for analysis.