Pain-free diabetes test wins Shaping Australia Award

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

A revolutionary biosensor poised to change the treatment of diabetes forever, has been crowned winner of the prestigious Shaping Australia ‘Problem Solver’ Award.

Professor Paul Dastoor in a lab wearing a white glove. In focus in the forefront, he holds the small, transparent biosensor strip
Professor Paul Dastoor

An initiative of Universities Australia, the Shaping Australia Awards recognise and celebrate the extraordinary ways Australia’s universities and the people within them shape the nation.

Led by physicist Professor Paul Dastoor, the University of Newcastle biosensor project, edged out six national finalists in the ‘Problem Solver’ category, which celebrates work that has changed or has the potential to change the lives of Australians for the better.

Professor Dastoor said the inspiration behind the biosensor was to empower the 1.3 million people living with diabetes in Australia to monitor their health with ease.

“Globally, the number of individuals with diabetes is predicted to reach 1.3 billion by 2050.

“Testing blood glucose can involve pain and expense. The regime of testing frequently can be particularly difficult for children and their carers,” Professor Dastoor said.

Professor Dastoor’s biosensor team from the University’s Centre for Organic Electronics also includes Dr Daniel Elkington, Dr Nathan Cooling, and Dr Swee Lu Lim.

Renowned for inventions like solar paint and printable solar panels Professor Dastoor and his team developed the printable saliva-based glucose biosensor.

“The biosensor is a hundred times more sensitive than traditional blood sensors, using carbon-based organic materials.

“It’s pain-free. The user could simply test their saliva to test their blood glucose levels.”

Adaptable to various diseases, the biosensor is being commercialised for widespread use.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Officer Luke Sheehy said: “Our higher education sector is an engine for economic growth, addresses inequality through access to education, educates about 1.5 million people each year, runs a multibillion-dollar export industry and supports more than 250,000 jobs.

“Australia is stronger for the transformative research, world-class teaching and the community spirit our universities support and deliver.

“The Shaping Australia Awards is all about celebrating the rich contribution universities make to the nation, and the work showcased through our finalists is worth applauding.

“On behalf of Universities Australia, I want to extend my congratulations to our seven winners and 11 finalists,” Mr Sheehy said.

Chair of the judging panel and Former Secretariat of the Department of Education, Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM said:

“Winning initiatives that had the edge ultimately came down to how the problem that needed a solution was communicated, and how wide-reaching the impact of the solution was.”

The award was presented to Professor Paul Dastoor and Dr Daniel Elkington in a ceremony at Parliament House last night.

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