Those who take part in the business-project “Start-Up SPbU” are never too afraid to come up with audacious ideas. Students have invented an express testing system to determine the amount of the key macro-elements in the saliva: potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

The test-system is a small card, like business cards, sized at 4 cm high and 7 cm wide and comprising a number of ion-selective membranes that change their colours depending on the concentration of the macro-elements in the saliva.  Thus, an orange sensor for calcium can become blue depending on the calcium level in the saliva. How does it work? All you have to do is to collect a saliva specimen, make a photo to upload into your telephone and wait for 10-15 minutes. A mobile application will perform processing and help you understand the results. It will even give you recommendations how to make your diet more nutritious.

— Many labs perform blood tests, not saliva tests, to determine the amount of macro-elements, — said Egor Gumin, SPbU student, Department of Systemic Programming, and head of the project “IonTrack”. — There are a number of companies to perform DNA tests in saliva samples and make recommendations how to adopt a balanced diet. Still they do not consider changes that occur in our body throughout the time. Our aim is to provide quick results service and help you understand how to change your eating patterns. Moreover, we are concerned with how to make it cheaper to monitor the amount of macro-elements in the body on a regular basis.

Today the students have already designed a prototype of the membrane. How to make it more advanced and elaborate and develop a mobile application is underway yet. The young researchers suppose that their invention will be of interest to health-conscious people and athletes for whom monitoring macro-elements is vital.

The project is headed by Mariia Peshkova, Candidate of Chemistry, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Chemistry, SPbU, and comprises five students: Egor Gumin and Vladislav Evtushenko, four-year IT-students; Daria Dekina, a five-year chemistry student; Olga Poleshchuk, a second-year master student in biology; and Evgeniia Panova, a third-year HR-student.

The team has successfully passed a selection round administered by the expert council and got qualified for the second round, with three months ahead for fruitful collaboration. The winner of the “Start-Up SPbU” will be awarded a million roubles, which will be funded to create a small innovative enterprise at SPbU.