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Saint Mary’s receives first patent for Paper Analytic Device

| Thursday, September 1, 2016

The pharmaceutical industry is littered with different drugs and different versions of those drugs. While most ingredients serve a purpose, sometimes, the pharmaceuticals manufacturers buy ingredients that are of low-quality or even inactive that lower the effectiveness of the drug.

To solve this issue, Saint Mary’s professor of chemistry and physics Toni Barstis worked with Notre Dame professor of chemistry and biochemistry Marya Lieberman, Notre Dame Duda Family professor of engineering Patrick Flynn and a team of Saint Mary’s researchers to develop a device that detects these ingredients — a device which received the first patent ever awarded to Saint Mary’s.

The patent is for a Paper Analytical Device (PAD), a chemically-treated card-like device that can can detect multiple chemical components in a pill or capsule, including substitute drugs or fillers that may be added in place of an active ingredient.

The PAD is first treated with reagents, chemicals which help detect the chemical composition of pharmaceuticals. It then is scraped across the suspicious drug and subsequently dipped in water. The water moves up the device and allows the chemicals and the drugs to mix. This reaction produces colors which indicate the composition of the pharmaceutical.

Barstis said she was inspired to research the PAD after she audited a fabrication course at Notre Dame.

“I simply fell in love with devices,” she said. “I wanted to explore ways to combine my love of chemistry with my new love of fabricating devices, so I reached out to my friend at NDnano, affiliated faculty member Dr. Marya Lieberman. Together, we developed what is now referred to as the ‘PADs Project.’”

Receiving a patent for the first time felt “fantastic,” she said.

“For me, this was a dream come true.”

According to Barstis, the Saint Mary’s team that worked on the PADs project is currently working on two more projects. They are screening over 600 pharmaceutical samples collected in Nepal this past summer and examining a second patent application for the College, which involves a different fabrication and design of a PAD.

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole