Research Highlight

Biosensor detects early signs of diabetes

doi:10.1038/nindia.2019.19 Published online 17 February 2019

Scientists have developed a sensitive biosensor that can detect minute traces of a specific marker that signals the early onset of type 2 diabetes, making it useful in early diagnosis of the disease1.

Type 2 diabetes, the common form of diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4) is a potential biomarker for early management of this disease.

RBP4 specifically binds to retinol and transports it through the bloodstream to the liver. Elevated serum levels of RBP4 have been found in insulin-resistant mice and humans with obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, existing techniques for measuring the levels of RBP4 are complex and time-consuming. 

In search of a simple and efficient sensor, an international research team, including scientists from the CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Gujarat, and Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research in Ghaziabad, both in India, developed the biosensor using homemade plastic chip electrode, specific organic compounds and antibodies specific to RBP4.

When exposed to different concentrations of RBP4, the sensor generated electrical signals depending on the concentrations of RBP4. It displayed a low detection limit of 100 femtograms/ml. 

The sensor showed better responses and a lower limit of detection than the previously reported biosensors for RBP4, making it potentially useful for early detection and monitoring of type 2 diabetes.


1. Paul, A. et al. Picomolar detection of retinol binding protein 4 for early management of type II diabetes. Biosens. Bioelectron. 128, 122-128 (2019)