About this Research Topic
“My Biosphere” involves my body, the food I eat, the environment I live in, and the society I interact with in order to maintain a healthy life. Population growth, human migration and food transport, and precarious environments combined with a drop in regulations are all challenging our biospheres. With recent advancements in low-cost diagnostics such as paper sensors and printed electronics, new technologies are emerging to sense food quality, track our environment, and privately monitor our health. Although very popular among academics, these devices have failed to deliver their promises and to gain societal acceptance. Why? Are the obstacles technical, economical, or societal?
Every year, millions of people suffer from food-borne illness. Over a billion people lack safe potable water. The rapid spread of pathogen-based epidemics kills thousands of people worldwide. Reliable, instantaneous, and easy-to-use diagnostics for the detection of health, food, and environment conditions can save lives and improve quality of life.
To detect health, infectious diseases, environmental and food pathogens, or toxic elements in air and water often requires expensive and sophisticated instruments. Biofluids, food, water, or soil samples have traditionally been outsourced to central analytical and pathological laboratories, if available. Reliable and fast diagnoses without recourse to sophisticated laboratory and analytical instrument would have a significant impact on health, food and environmental safety. There is a need for reliable, user-friendly, instantaneous, and low-cost devices to detect health, environment, and food conditions. Paper-based diagnostics and filters offer attractive options. Paper bioassays manufactured by printing are already linked to phones/apps for telemedicine, while low-cost electronics printed on flexible films offer competitive technologies.
This concept is not new. Paper diagnostics detecting sugar in urine appeared in the 1850s. Despite incredible potential, only few paper diagnostics have since been commercialized; these include pH paper, pregnancy tests, and antibacterial handwipes and towels.
This Research Topic combines the scientific, technical, cultural, and socio-economic issues controlling the development and use of low-cost diagnostics to improve health, food and environment. Our scope covers prospects and limitations of paper/low-cost diagnostics for health, food, and environmental applications from scientific, technical, health-based, economic, cultural policy, and political perspectives.
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