Every so often, a rare opportunity comes along that steers you in an unexpected direction.
That was the case when researchers at Imperial College London reached out to partner with us on a study that would send our Amulets across the Atlantic Ocean. They were looking for an electrochemical instrument to pair with their sensors, and the Amulet was the only one that would work.
Because here’s the thing: while we’ve spent most of these past several years developing proprietary sensors in our lab to detect food allergens and contaminants, in that time we’ve also developed the world’s smallest portable, wireless, and battery-powered potentiostat—an instrument required for electrochemical detection.
That small, black, shiny rectangle we use for food testing is not your average gadget. It not only pairs with our proprietary sensors, but with others as well!
For this study, our Amulets will use sensors developed at Imperial College that detect hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body and is released during the breakdown of red blood cells.
This research will inform the study of hemolysis—the rupture of red blood cells—a risk factor in many invasive procedures such as heart surgery and blood transfusions, and can accompany autoimmune diseases, malaria, and has been linked to COVID-19. Hemolysis also occurs when the body is under extreme physical stress, such as in ultra-endurance athletic competitions.
And so, on December 12th, our Amulets will row across the Atlantic with the Enginoars, a team of researchers led by Imperial College bioengineer PhD candidate Rufus Mitchel-Heggs, in what has been dubbed the “world’s toughest row.” In addition to weathering gale force winds, low temperatures, and waves as high as 20 feet, these rowers will routinely use our Amulets to test their hemoglobin levels.
“This rowing competition offers an optimal environment for studying hemolysis,” says Owen Griffiths, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College and lead researcher on the study. “The hope is that this study will translate to earlier detection, better patient outcomes, and help advance rapid, low-cost, point-of-care testing.”
Currently, the industry standard for hemolysis detection requires lab analysis. The Amulet opens up greater capabilities for faster, on-site electrochemical detection methods.
You may be wondering: if the Amulet and its capabilities are so extraordinary, why doesn’t it already exist?
In a sense, it does. The Amulet is not the first potentiostat. A glucometer, for example, is a type of potentiostat. But glucometers are an example of what our team calls “bare” potentiostats—they are application-specific and have limited functionality. Other commercial platform potentiostats are generally larger, more expensive, and less user-friendly, not to mention poorly equipped to travel the Atlantic! Amulet, alternatively, has developed a more affordable, portable platform potentiostat that enables a broad range of testing functions.
“Amulet is making potentiostats mainstream by optimizing size and power through miniaturization, wearable battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity,” notes Scientific Advisor Dr. Lukasz Mendecki.
Amulet’s edge lies in our expertise. Very few individuals have the requisite electrochemical expertise to build something like the Amulet, and the same goes for our sensors. Indeed, Amulet Co-Founder, Dr. Joseph BelBruno, founded and led the first company to commercialize the foundational sensor technology. Developing our Amulet and sensors represented a rare meeting of the minds and years of hard work toward achieving something extraordinary.
In keeping with the spirit of doing extraordinary things, we’re thrilled to travel the high seas with this incredible team to advance hemolysis research and test the outer bounds of the Amulet’s capabilities with other sensor technologies, all while supporting Engineers Without Borders, a charity committed to engineering a more sustainable and purpose-driven world.
Wishing them fair winds and following seas!
— Abi Barnes & the Amulet Team