UA Research to Help Hay Fever Sufferers


Akron, Ohio, July 28, 2006 The more than 35 million Americans suffering from hay fever will soon breathe easier, thanks to research at The University of Akron that provides faster and more accurate pollen counts.

Hay fever allergic rhinitis is caused by high pollen counts. Early, accurate and quick identification of high pollen concentrations can warn hay fever sufferers to limit or avoid outdoor activities early on and ultimately reduce hay fever's annual direct and indirect medical costs, estimated to be $7.7 billion, says UA assistant professor of mechanical engineering Dr. Jiang Zhe.

Zhe and UA graduate assistants Ashish V. Jagtiani and Rupesh Sawant describe their study in the paper, A label-free high throughput resistive-pulse sensor for simultaneous differentiation and measurement of multiple particle-laden analytes in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering (JMM).

It is of increasing importance to public health and environmental monitoring to be able to make quantitative bioassays of microscale and nanoscale bioparticles, including bacteria spores, viruses and DNA, Zhe says.

Today, authentication of bioparticles is performed by expensive and bulky equipment. It is important to develop new analytical devices that are portable, smart and suitable for mass production.

Microscopy is traditionally used for on-site examination of pollen; however, these techniques take time and require skilled personnel, says Zhe. With technology transfer and management support from The University of Akron Research Foundation, we developed high-throughput, integrated microfluidic electro-optical sensors for cell-based assays and for bioparticles and their assemblies ranging from 100 nanometers (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter) to 100 micrometers.

These multichannel, resistive pulse sensors combine technologies in microfluidics, micro-electro-mechanical systems, biosensing and signal processing. The pollen detection with our device was all-electronic and did not require labeling of particles or other particle specific preparation.

The study will be in the August print version of JMM at

Two related studies were published in the June 2006 issue of Measurement Science and Technology and the September 2005 issue of Atmospheric Environment, in which Zhe was joined by Dr. Jun Hu, UA associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Joan Carletta, UA associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The studies are at and, respectively.