Paper component incorporated in a methacrylate cartridge. / Source: Daniel Ortega (IMB-CNM-CSIC)

A device that combines microfluidics on paper, electrochemical transduction and immunoassays on magnetic nanoparticles is able to detect biomarkers of inflammation in sputum samples, useful for easy and rapid diagnosis of lung diseases. The results of the research, coordinated by the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona of the CSIC (IMB-CNM-CSIC), are now published in the journal ACS Sensors.

The development is the result of the collaboration between the IMB-CNM-CSIC, the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC), the Balearic Islands Health Research Institute (IdISBa), the Department of Chemical Engineering of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the Center for Biomedical Research Network (CIBER-BBN), the Physics Center – University of Minho – University of Porto (CF-UM-UP) of Portugal and the company Cellvax, SAS of France.

“It is a compact, inexpensive and easy-to-use device that simultaneously measures three biomarkers in sputum, whose levels are altered in exacerbated patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” says César Fernández-Sánchez, coordinator of the work and researcher at the IMB-CNM.

The device consists of an electrochemical cell array integrated into a chip and a paper component incorporated into a methacrylate cartridge, and allows simultaneous determination of three biomarkers of inflammation, interleukin-8 (IL-8), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and the enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO). The concentration of these markers in sputum would help in the early detection of different stages of COPD.

Currently, COPD is the third leading cause of mortality worldwide and is confirmed by spirometry standard respiratory function test. In middle- and low-income countries, it is not usually available, causing the mortality rate for this disease to be high, with 90% of deaths occurring in patients under 70 years of age, according to data from the World Health Organization.

“The versatility of the diagnostic technology presented can be easily adapted to the detection of other target biomarkers, such as specific RNA sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, as Manuel Gutiérrez-Capitán, IMB-CNM researcher, points out.

The work started within the framework of the LungCheck project (ERANET-EuroNanoMed II) and continued within the CSIC Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform Global Health.


Manuel Gutiérrez-Capitán, Ana Sanchis, Estela O. Carvalho, Antonio Baldi, Lluïsa Vilaplana, Vanessa F. Cardoso, Álvaro Calleja, Mingxing Wei, Roberto de la Rica, Javier Hoyo, Arnau Bassegoda, Tzanko Tzanov, María-Pilar Marco, Senentxu Lanceros Méndez, and César Fernández-Sánchez. Engineering a Point-of-Care Paper-Microfluidic Electrochemical Device Applied to the Multiplexed Quantitative Detection of Biomarkers in Sputum. ACS Sensors. DOI:


Press release


Sabela Rey Cao / IMB-CNM-CSIC Communication

IQAC-CSIC Communication