IIT Guwahati researchers develop portable device for instant glycemic index detection in fast food
Prof Dipankar Bandyopadhyay and .Prathu Raja Parmar

Guwahati: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) have achieved a scientific breakthrough with the development of a portable Glycemic Index (GI) sensor capable of instant point-of-care detection. Led by Prof. Dipankar Bandyopadhyay from the Department of Chemical Engineering, the team’s innovation promises to provide invaluable real-time information for individuals managing their blood sugar levels, particularly those with diabetes.

The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a metric that classifies carbohydrate-containing foods based on their impact on blood sugar levels upon consumption. Foods with a high GI can lead to rapid spikes in blood glucose levels, followed by abrupt declines. Moreover, these high-GI foods trigger an increased demand for insulin, elevating the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. On the other hand, low-GI foods are essential for preventing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and even certain cancers.

As the global trend of consuming fast food continues to rise among the working population, the demand for portable devices that can swiftly and accurately assess the GI of these foods becomes increasingly critical. The point-of-care-testing (POCT) prototype developed by the IIT Guwahati team can determine the glycemic index of common food sources in just approximately 5 minutes.

Prof. Bandyopadhyay elucidated the detection methodology, stating, “We developed a composite nanoenzyme by combining gold nanoparticles with alpha-amylase to break down long-chain starch molecules into simpler sugars. We found that this nanoenzyme, approximately 30 nanometers in size, possesses remarkable heterogeneous catalytic properties, enabling the rapid degradation of starch into maltose at room temperature.”

The amount of maltose produced is then electrochemically detected, enabling the classification of food sources into categories such as Rapidly Digestible Starch (RDS), Slowly Digestible Starch (SDS), and Resistant Starch (RS).

Elaborating on the real-time monitoring of fast food, Prof. Bandyopadhay noted, “When we tested the device on fast foods like crackers, biscuits, chips, and bread, we found that crackers have the most RDS, followed by potato chips, and then brown bread. Notably, the SDS/RS of brown bread releases maltose slowly, causing a gradual increase in glucose levels and a lower response from insulin in the body.”

The research findings have been published in the journal “Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering” by the American Chemical Society. The paper is co-authored by Prathu Raja Parmar, Jiwajyoti Mahanta, Saurabh Dubey, Tapas Kumar Mandal, and Prof. Dipankar Bandyopadhyay.

Furthermore, the research team has filed a patent for their innovation: “Real-time glycemic index sensor comprising enzymatic biosynthesized gold nanocomposite,” authored by Prathu Raja Parmar, Saurabh Dubey, and Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, with the reference number TEMP/E-1/36319/2023-KOL, Ref. No. 202331031908.

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According to a statement from the institute, the research was funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

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