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Hormone sensor

A sensor designed by researchers at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington may help estimate estrogen levels in bodily fluids and in rivers, which are often contaminated with estrogenic compounds – a vast group of hormones that can be harmful to living organisms, generally eliminated in urine. The device is based on aptamers (small fragments of DNA that recognize and bind to different types of molecules) attached to carbon nanotubes. In the study, published in the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B on November 9, 2015, the researchers tested the sensor on a solution similar to that found in bodily fluids. Upon coming into contact with the device, the molecules in the solution arranged themselves in an electrically stable layer on the surface of the nanotubes. The estrogen molecules captured by the aptamers broke through this layer, altering the electric current in the device and generating an electric signal.