Portable biohybrid odorant sensors using cell-laden collagen micropillars
Biohybrid odorant sensors (BOSs) composed of biological materials and artificial detectors have recently attracted much attention due to their high degree of sensitivity and selectivity. Although portability is crucial for the practical use of BOSs on site, the currently used artificial detectors for biological signals are unportable. In this study, we propose a portable cell-based odorant sensor, which uses cell-laden collagen micropillars to compensate the low optical abilities of portable artificial detectors. The micropillars were composed of HEK293T cells expressing olfactory receptors, which emit a fluorescence signal based on the extent of odorant stimulation using a calcium fluorescent indicator. By stacking cells vertically in the micropillars, we achieved different levels of amplification of the fluorescence signals by varying the height of the micropillars. As a working demonstration of the portable BOS, we successfully detected different concentrations of odorants using an inexpensive web camera. The BOS was also able to distinguish the slight differences between an agonist and an antagonist. We believe that the portability of our BOS would facilitate its applications in point-of-care testing and on-site detection of hazardous materials.