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Pain-free diabetes test wins Shaping Australia Award

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

Led by Professor Paul Dastoor, ANFF-Materials University of Newcastle (UoN) Hub Director, the UoN 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. 

The inspiration behind the biosensor was to empower the 1.3 million people living with diabetes in Australia to monitor their health with ease. Testing blood glucose can involve pain and expense. The regime of testing frequently can be particularly difficult for children and their carers, said Prof Dastoor.

Prof Paul Dastoor holding a glucose biosensor strip.

Prof 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, the biosensor team developed the printable saliva-based glucose biosensor using ANFF’s roll-to-roll printing facilities at UoN. This is another example of how innovators are adapting mature technology platforms, like printing, to solve current problems. According to Prof Dastoor, ‘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. 

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. Universities Australia Chief Executive Officer Luke Sheehy said: ‘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.’ 

The award was presented to Prof Paul Dastoor and Dr Daniel Elkington in a ceremony at Parliament House on 27 February. 

Read UoN’s original press release at