Now, a thumb imprint is all that is required for detecting hyperbilirubinemia, a condition in which the amount of bilirubin in the blood is in excess and turns the sclera of the eye, urine and even the skin yellow. Hyperbilirubinemia is commonly seen in people with jaundice.
The breakthrough is a result of a research conducted by a team at IIT Guwahati, led by Prof. Arun Chattopadhyay from the Department of Chemistry and Centre for Nanotechnology.
“When a person has jaundice, the bilirubin gets deposited on the skin surface. We wanted to develop a quick test to confirm if the bilirubin amount has exceeded the permissible limit in the blood,” says Prof. Chattopadhyay.
The team has been working on nanotechnology for more than 10 years, and, in recent years, on luminiscent atomic nanoclusters.
“You need to press the thumb on the membrane for a few minutes to restore the yellow luminescence in the gold nanoclusters. Immediately after taking an impression, the same thumb cannot be used on a different membrane to restore the luminescence of copper-deposited gold nanoclusters. This could be because there is insufficient bilirubin present on the skin of the thumb after the first impression,” says Prof. Chattopadhyay.