AUG 16, 2018 8:34 AM PDT

Nanotech patch makes light-up medical tests 100x brighter

Researchers have developed a high-tech fix that uses metal nanostructures to increase the fluorescence intensity by 100 times in diagnostic tests. It’s a cheap and easy solution to a vexing diagnostic problem.

Fluorescence-based biosensing and bioimaging technologies are common in research and clinical settings to detect and image various biological species of interest. While fluorescence-based detection and imaging techniques are convenient to use, they suffer from poor sensitivity.

For example, when a patient carries low levels of antigens in the blood or urine, the fluorescent signal can be feeble, making visualization and diagnosis difficult. For this reason, fluorescence-based detection is not always ideal when sensitivity is a key requirement.

“Using fluorescence for biodetection is very convenient and easy, but the problem is it’s not that sensitive, and that’s why researchers don’t want to rely on it,” says Srikanth Singamaneni, professor of mechanical engineering & material science at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science.

As the team explains in the journal Light: Science and Applications, techniques to boost the signal—such as relying on enzyme-based amplification—require extra steps that prolong the overall operation time, as well as specialized and expensive read-out systems in some cases.

However, the “plasmonic patch” developed by Singamaneni and coworkers doesn’t require any change in testing protocol. The patch is a flexible piece of film about a centimeter square, embedded with nanomaterials. All a researcher or lab tech needs to do is prepare the sample in the usual method, apply the patch over the top, and then scan the sample as usual.

“It’s a thin layer of elastic, transparent material with gold nanorods or other plasmonic nanostructures absorbed on the top,” says Jingyi Luan, a graduate student in the Singamaneni Lab and primary author of the manuscript.

“These nanostructures act as antennae: they concentrate light into a tiny volume around the molecules emitting fluorescence. The fluorescence is dramatic, making it easier to visualize. The patch can be imagined to be a magnifying glass for the light.”

Singamaneni says the newly developed patch is a cheap fix—costing only about a nickel per application—and one that contains not only research applications but also diagnostics. It could be particularly useful in a microarray, which enables simultaneous detection of tens to hundreds of analytes in a single experiment.

“The plasmonic patch will enable the detection of low abundance analytes in combination with conventional detection methodologies, which is the beauty of our approach,” says Rajesh Naik, chief scientist of the 711th Human Performance Wing of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“It’s a last step, just like a Band-Aid,” Singamaneni says. “You apply it, and the dimness problem in these fluorescence-based detection methods is solved.”

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Research Foundation funded the research. Washington University’s Office of Technology Management also provided funding.

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

 

This article was originally published on Futurity.org

About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
OCT 29, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Hemp 10 Years from Now
OCT 29, 2020
Hemp 10 Years from Now
The hemp industry has experienced major growth in recent years, largely due to legalization in many US states. Today, th ...
NOV 09, 2020
Cancer
A Prognostic Expression Profile for Osteosarcoma
NOV 09, 2020
A Prognostic Expression Profile for Osteosarcoma
Tireless research goes into every cancer diagnostic tools and new therapy. Many types of cancer have made giant steps fo ...
DEC 02, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Digital Platform Watches for a Silent COVID Killer
DEC 02, 2020
Digital Platform Watches for a Silent COVID Killer
 
DEC 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Feeling Unmotivated? It Could Be Dementia.
DEC 24, 2020
Feeling Unmotivated? It Could Be Dementia.
Apathy, characterized by a pronounced lack of enthusiasm, motivation, or interest, is a predictor of the future onset of ...
JAN 24, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Rare Neurodevelopment Disorder LINKED is IDed
JAN 24, 2021
Rare Neurodevelopment Disorder LINKED is IDed
Scientists have now characterized a genetic disorder called linkage-specific-deubiquitylation-deficiency-induced embryon ...
FEB 03, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Panel of Arthritis Biomarkers Diagnoses Disease With 93.2% Accuracy
FEB 03, 2021
New Panel of Arthritis Biomarkers Diagnoses Disease With 93.2% Accuracy
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a painful and debilitating autoimmune disorder of the joints, particularly those of the ...
Loading Comments...