‘Bio-Chip’ device for chronic pain diagnosis

Researchers at Flinders University have been awarded a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to develop a cutting-edge ‘neuron-on-chip’ biosensor device to help diagnose what type of pain a patient may be suffering.

Lead investigator Dr Dusan Matusica says the device would use living sensory nerves attached to a state-of-the-art material surface to act as a biological sensor - like an initial pain sensing part of the nervous system.

The chip can then use these living nerves to respond to blood serum samples from chronic pain patients to help diagnose what type of chronic pain condition they may be suffering.

“The aim is for the biosensor to speed up and assist in complicated clinical diagnosis of chronic pain types, which then allows the treating physician to administer a more appropriate drug regime, minimising the negative side effects and addiction potential,” Dr Matusica explains.

Chronic pain from injury or disease is a growing global health problem with epidemic prevalence and no effective treatment.

“Pain is complex and highly subjective with every patient experiencing pain in a unique way, and we still lack objective diagnosis with a self-reporting 1-10 pain scale being the most common tool for diagnosing pain severity,” Dr Matusica says.

“Diagnosis is even more difficult in patients unable to self-report such as infants, the unconscious and patients with a disability.

“A device capable of producing a reliable measure of a chronic pain subtypes would revolutionise the speed and accuracy of diagnostic outcomes for patients.”

The research team’s long-term plans include developing these devices into multiple platforms suitable for screening chronic pain medications and their effectiveness of treatment in patients.

“The biosensor can assist in complicated clinical diagnosis of chronic pain types, which then allows the treating physician to administer a more appropriate drug regime, minimising the negative side effects and addiction potential.”


Research category: Chronic Pain Management

Project title: Development of neuron-on-chip biosensor surface for empirical discrimination of chronic pain types

Lead researcher: Dr Dusan Matusica

Support seed funding research projects at Flinders DONATE NOW