Electrical and Electronic Engineering - Research Publications

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    Cortico-cognition coupling in treatment resistant schizophrenia
    Syeda, WT ; Wannan, CMJ ; Merritt, AH ; Raghava, JM ; Jayaram, M ; Velakoulis, D ; Kristensen, TD ; Soldatos, RF ; Tonissen, S ; Thomas, N ; Ambrosen, KS ; Sorensen, ME ; Fagerlund, B ; Rostrup, E ; Glenthoj, BY ; Skafidas, E ; Bousman, CA ; Johnston, LA ; Everall, I ; Ebdrup, BH ; Pantelis, C (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Brain structural alterations and cognitive dysfunction are independent predictors for poor clinical outcome in schizophrenia, and the associations between these domains remains unclear. We employed a novel, multiblock partial least squares correlation (MB-PLS-C) technique and investigated multivariate cortico-cognitive patterns in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) and matched healthy controls (HC). METHOD: Forty-one TRS patients (age 38.5 ± 9.1, 30 males (M)), and 45 HC (age 40.2 ± 10.6, 29 M) underwent 3T structural MRI. Volumes of 68 brain regions and seven variables from CANTAB covering memory and executive domains were included. Univariate group differences were assessed, followed by the MB-PLS-C analyses to identify group-specific multivariate patterns of cortico-cognitive coupling. Supplementary three-group analyses, which included 23 non-affected first-degree relatives (NAR), were also conducted. RESULTS: Univariate tests demonstrated that TRS patients showed impairments in all seven cognitive tasks and volume reductions in 12 cortical regions following Bonferroni correction. The MB-PLS-C analyses revealed two significant latent variables (LVs) explaining > 90% of the sum-of-squares variance. LV1 explained 78.86% of the sum-of-squares variance, describing a shared, widespread structure-cognitive pattern relevant to both TRS patients and HCs. In contrast, LV2 (13.47% of sum-of-squares variance explained) appeared specific to TRS and comprised a differential cortico-cognitive pattern including frontal and temporal lobes as well as paired associates learning (PAL) and intra-extra dimensional set shifting (IED). Three-group analyses also identified two significant LVs, with NARs more closely resembling healthy controls than TRS patients. CONCLUSIONS: MB-PLS-C analyses identified multivariate brain structural-cognitive patterns in the latent space that may provide a TRS signature.
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    Design and Optimisation of Elliptical-Shaped Planar Hall Sensor for Biomedical Applications
    Uddin, SM ; Sayad, A ; Chan, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2022-02-01)
    The magnetic beads detection-based immunoassay, also called magneto-immunoassay, has potential applications in point-of-care testing (POCT) due to its unique advantage of minimal background interference from the biological sample and associated reagents. While magnetic field detection technologies are well established for numerous applications in the military, as well as in geology, archaeology, mining, spacecraft, and mobile phones, adaptation into magneto-immunoassay is yet to be explored. The magnetic field biosensors under development tend to be multilayered and require an expensive fabrication process. A low-cost and affordable biosensing platform is required for an effective point-of-care diagnosis in a resource-limited environment. Therefore, we evaluated a single-layered magnetic biosensor in this study to overcome this limitation. The shape-induced magnetic anisotropy-based planar hall effect sensor was recently developed to detect a low-level magnetic field, but was not explored for medical application. In this study, the elliptical-shaped planar hall effect (EPHE) sensor was designed, fabricated, characterized, and optimized for the magneto-immunoassay, specifically. Nine sensor variants were designed and fabricated. A customized measurement setup incorporating a lock-in amplifier was used to quantify 4.5 µm magnetic beads in a droplet. The result indicated that the single-domain behaviour of the magnetic film and larger sensing area with a thinner magnetic film had the highest sensitivity. The developed sensor was tested with a range of magnetic bead concentrations, demonstrating a limit of detection of 200 beads/μL. The sensor performance encourages employing magneto-immunoassay towards developing a low-cost POCT device in the future.
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    Letter: improved parsimony of genetic risk scores for coeliac disease through refined HLA modelling
    Erlichster, M ; Bedo, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P ; Kowalczyk, A ; Goudey, B (WILEY, 2021-03-01)
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    Meander Thin-Film Biosensor Fabrication to Investigate the Influence of Structural Parameters on the Magneto-Impedance Effect
    Sayad, A ; Uddin, SM ; Chan, J ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2021-10-01)
    Thin-film magneto-impedance (MI) biosensors have attracted significant attention due to their high sensitivity and easy miniaturization. However, further improvement is required to detect weak biomagnetic signals. Here, we report a meander thin-film biosensor preparation to investigate the fabrication parameters influencing the MI effect. Specifically, we hypothesized that an optimal film thickness and sensing area size ratio could be achieved to obtain a maximum MI ratio. A meander multilayer MI biosensor based on a NiFe/Cu/NiFe thin-film was designed and fabricated into 3-, 6-, and 9-turn models with film thicknesses of 3 µm and 6 µm. The 9-turn biosensor resembled the largest sensing area, while the 3- and 6-turn biosensors were designed with identical sensing areas. The results indicated that the NiFe film thickness of 6 µm with a sensing area size of 14.4 mm2 resembling a 9-turn MI biosensor is the optimal ratio yielding the maximum MI ratio of 238%, which is 70% larger than the 3- and 6-turn structures. The 3- and 6-turn MI biosensors exhibited similar characteristics where the MI ratio peaked at a similar value. Our results suggest that the MI ratio can be increased by increasing the sensing area size and film thickness rather than the number of turns. We showed that an optimal film thickness to sensing area size ratio is required to obtain a high MI ratio. Our findings will be useful for designing highly sensitive MI biosensors capable of detecting low biomagnetic signals.
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    Indoor infrared optical wireless localization system with background light power estimation capability
    Wang, K ; Nirmalathas, A ; Lim, C ; Alameh, K ; Li, H ; Skafidas, E (OPTICAL SOC AMER, 2017-09-18)
    The indoor user localization function is in high demand for high-speed wireless communications, navigations and smart-home applications. The optical wireless technology has been used to localize end users in indoor environments. However, its accuracy is typically very limited, due to the ambient light, which is relatively strong. In this paper, a novel high-localization-accuracy optical wireless based indoor localization system, based on the use of the mechanism that estimates background light intensity, is proposed. Both theoretical studies and demonstration experiments are carried out. Experimental results show that the accuracy of the proposed optical wireless indoor localization system is independent on the localization light strength, and that an average localization error as small as 2.5 cm is attained, which is 80% better than the accuracy of previously reported optical wireless indoor localization systems.
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    Utility of Pan-Family Assays for Rapid Viral Screening: Reducing Delays in Public Health Responses During Pandemics
    Erlichster, M ; Chana, G ; Zantomio, D ; Goudey, B ; Skafidas, E ( 2020-05-26)

    Summary

    Background

    The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted deficiencies in the testing capacity of many developed countries during the early stages of emerging pandemics. Here we describe the potential for pan-family viral assays to improve early accessibility of large-scale nucleic acid testing.

    Methods

    Coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 were used as a case-study for investigating the utility of pan-family viral assays during the early stages of a novel pandemic. Specificity of a pan-coronavirus (Pan-CoV) assay for viral detection was assessed using the frequency of common human coronavirus (HCoV) species in key populations. A reported Pan-CoV assay was assessed to determine sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2 and 59 other coronavirus species. The resilience of the primer target regions of this assay to mutation was assessed in 8893 high quality SARS-CoV-2 genomes to predict ongoing utility during pandemic progression.

    Findings

    Due to infection with common HCoV species, a Pan-CoV assay would return a false positive for as few as 1% of asymptomatic adults, but up to 30% of immunocompromised patients displaying symptoms of respiratory disease. Two of the four reported pan-coronavirus assays would have identified SARS-CoV-2 and we demonstrate that with small adjustments to the primers, these assays can accommodate novel variation observed in animal coronaviruses. The assay target region of one well established Pan-CoV assay is highly resistant to mutation compared to regions targeted by other widely applied SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assays.

    Interpretation

    Pan-family assays have the potential to greatly assist management of emerging public health emergencies through prioritization of high-resolution testing or isolation measures, despite limitations in test specificity due to cross-reactivity with common pathogens. Targeting highly conserved genomic regions make pan-family assays robust and resilient to mutation of a given virus. This approach may be applicable to other viral families and has utility as part of a strategic stockpile of tests maintained to better contain spread of novel diseases prior to the widespread availability of specific assays.
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    Silicon nanowire photodetector enhanced by a bow-tie antenna
    Felic, GK ; Al-Dirini, F ; Hossain, FM ; Thanh, CN ; Skafidas, E (SPRINGER, 2014-05-01)
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    Heater Integrated Lab-on-a-Chip Device for Rapid HLA Alleles Amplification towards Prevention of Drug Hypersensitivity
    Uddin, SM ; Sayad, A ; Chan, J ; Huynh, DH ; Skafidas, E ; Kwan, P (MDPI, 2021-05-01)
    HLA-B*15:02 screening before administering carbamazepine is recommended to prevent life-threatening hypersensitivity. However, the unavailability of a point-of-care device impedes this screening process. Our research group previously developed a two-step HLA-B*15:02 detection technique utilizing loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) on the tube, which requires two-stage device development to translate into a portable platform. Here, we report a heater-integrated lab-on-a-chip device for the LAMP amplification, which can rapidly detect HLA-B alleles colorimetrically. A gold-patterned micro-sized heater was integrated into a 3D-printed chip, allowing microfluidic pumping, valving, and incubation. The performance of the chip was tested with color dye. Then LAMP assay was conducted with human genomic DNA samples of known HLA-B genotypes in the LAMP-chip parallel with the tube assay. The LAMP-on-chip results showed a complete match with the LAMP-on-tube assay, demonstrating the detection system's concurrence.
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    Detection of voluntary dehydration in paediatric populations using non-invasive point-of-care saliva and urine testing
    Faidah, N ; Soraya, G ; Erlichster, M ; Natzir, R ; Chana, G ; Skafidas, E ; Hardjo, M ; Ganda, IJ ; Bahar, B (WILEY, 2020-12-29)
    AIM: Voluntary dehydration, or lack of fluid intake despite water availability, is common in otherwise healthy children, and can lead to adverse effects. Most dehydration biomarkers are impractical for routine assessment in paediatric populations. This study aimed to assess two non-invasive hydration assessment tools, urine specific gravity (USG ) and a novel point-of-care (POC) salivary osmolarity (SOSM) sensor, in healthy children. METHODS: Volunteers were tested by colorimetric USG and a handheld SOSM system. Observed values were compared against previous studies to determine hydration status, as was the concordance between parameters. RESULTS: At the common USG threshold of 1.020, 42.4% of the 139 healthy children were dehydrated. The same prevalence was found using the 70-mOSM cut-off value. Comparative analysis of SOSM at varying USG thresholds demonstrated significantly higher SOSM in dehydrated children with a USG  ≥ 1.030 (P = 0.002). CONCLUSION: At the USG threshold of 1.020 and SOSM threshold of 70 mOSM, 42.4% of healthy children were found to be voluntarily dehydrated. Significantly higher SOSM was observed in dehydrated children (USG  ≥ 1.030). As the first study on the utility of POC SOSM measurements for detecting dehydration, these results provide a foundation for future POC characterisation of SOSM in other populations and clinical contexts.
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    An ab-initio Computational Method to Determine Dielectric Properties of Biological Materials
    Abeyrathne, CD ; Halgamuge, MN ; Farrell, PM ; Skafidas, E (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2013-05-08)
    Frequency dependent dielectric properties are important for understanding the structure and dynamics of biological materials. These properties can be used to study underlying biological processes such as changes in the concentration of biological materials, and the formation of chemical species. Computer simulations can be used to determine dielectric properties and atomic details inaccessible via experimental methods. In this paper, a unified theory utilizing molecular dynamics and density functional theory is presented that is able to determine the frequency dependent dielectric properties of biological materials in an aqueous solution from their molecular structure alone. The proposed method, which uses reaction field approximations, does not require a prior knowledge of the static dielectric constant of the material. The dielectric properties obtained from our method agree well with experimental values presented in the literature.