Canatu CNT-based electrochemical sensor for bedside blood concentration measurement progresses to clinical studies

The new point-of-care electrochemical sensor for bedside blood concentration measurement enables real-time detection of analgesics from blood without extensive sample treatment, improving test result wait time, cost, and convenience.

Canatu carbon nanotube (CNT) -based electrochemical sensor is designed for fast detection of analgesics in blood, saliva and urine. Developed within Fast Electrochemical Point-of-Care Diagnostics FEDOC project, the new Canatu CNT -based point-of-care (POC) testing offers caregivers rapid detection at lower cost, ease of use, and convenience with portability. Because of its compact size, the sensor can be used in several settings, which can cut the detection time from hours to minutes. The sensor is now being evaluated with clinical samples from the Helsinki University Hospital.

Opioid analgesic misuse has risen significantly over the past two decades. According to WHO estimates, approximately 115 000 people died of opioid overdose in 2017 alone. Fast detection of concentrations of analgesics is critical for safe patient care. Currently, intoxication is diagnosed based on clinical signs and the concentrations are measured afterwards in a laboratory from blood samples drawn via venipuncture. Obtaining whole blood samples can be challenging and requires high level of expertise. Samples are then sent away from the point of care, and hours or even days can pass before the results are ready while the care must continue without the needed information. Testing is confined to the laboratory because this standard mass spectrometry method requires bulky equipment and sample treatment that cannot be done elsewhere.

The new portable electrochemical device can detect a range of analgesics (such as opioids and acetaminophen) with high sensitivity and selectivity from small samples, such as a single blood drop. This enables the use of non-invasive capillary blood, urine, and saliva in testing the concentrations of the analgesics. Because of its small size, the test can also be conducted at the point of care, such as at clinics, at home and remote areas where on-site testing and rapid results are critical for well-informed patient care.

“The new portable POC electrochemical sensor enables timely clinical decision making and better patient care. With fast test results, the physician can update the individual care plan and medication on a timely manner, “says Professor Eija Kalso, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki.

Canatu carbon nanotubes are ideal for the detection of analgesics because of their clean surface, large contact area with the analyte and high conductivity which contribute to strong signal and low detection limit. They are extremely versatile, which means the molecular structure can be tuned to maximize selectivity. Thanks to the self-filtering structure, Canatu CNTs have high resistance to fouling, which helps prevent electrode contamination by large molecules, such as proteins. Contamination can risk reliability by preventing contact with the analyte.

“Canatu CNT delivers value across industries. We are continuously on the lookout for new domains to help solve the world’s most critical challenges and enhance the process with our solutions. CNTs are amazingly versatile with virtually infinite application potentials. With medical diagnostics, we are embarking on an exciting journey with a meaningful purpose; to help cure the global opioid overdose crisis and save lives.” says Ilkka Varjos, CTO, Canatu.

The clinical study design includes two phases. The first clinical study aims to validate test reliability and equivalence with a standard mass spectrometry laboratory method. 200 laboratory samples are collected from patients with suspected acetaminophen intoxication and tested for concentration applying both the new FEDOC method and the standard chromatographic method. The second clinical study compares test results of alternative sampling methods, namely venipuncture, capillary blood, urine, and saliva.

FEDOC is a 2-year Research to Business project kicked off in June 2019, led by Aalto University and funded by Business Finland. Clinical studies started in July 2020. Canatu participates in the project as a proprietary supplier of the CNB -based sensors manufactured in Canatu’s mass production lines. For more information, please contact Canatu representatives.


Mari Makkonen Canatu VP Marketing and Communications
Mari Makkonen
VP, Marketing & Communications +358 504 422 343

Send us a message and we’ll get back to you soon.

About Canatu
Canatu is a carbon nanomaterial developer creating the most advanced carbon nanotubes for industry-transforming products. The Canatu carbon nanotube (CNT) technology has been created with a unique process that ensures the required versatility and reliability for highly engineered solutions. Canatu partners with forerunner companies, together transforming products for better tomorrows with nano carbon. The company’s focus is in the automotive and semiconductor industries with the portfolio’s core spanning from ADAS heaters to 3D touch sensors and to EUV membranes. The experts at Canatu think big and create impacts on the tiniest scale – nano solutions for massive impact. Canatu’s headquarters are in Finland with sales offices also in the US, Japan and Taiwan.