For researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology developing a new class of nanodiagnostics, good things come in small packages. With their novel DNA biosensor technology, they have created an inexpensive, ultrasensitive diagnostic tool that is capable of catching cancer and genetic diseases faster and more accurately.
“Biosensing with nanomaterials has the advantages of greater sensitivity and faster response than traditional analytical methods that require today's medical devices and time-consuming molecular amplification techniques,” said Wang.
What are DNA biosensors? In general, they consist of three major elements: a recognition element that binds specifically to a biological target, a signal converter that transmits information and a processor. The sensor can pick up characteristic patterns on the levels of various biological molecules in a patient’s sample: from nucleic acids to protein antibodies.
The biosensor designed by Wang and team had a distinctive spheroidal molecular structure that resembled the shape of a sea urchin, consisting of carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles. The specific structural conformation and the chosen materials resulted in the biosensor’s robust electrochemical output.
Wenyan Liu, co-author on the research article provided insights on why this innovative platform outperforms currently-available diagnostic systems, saying, “Because the combination of carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles produced a larger-than-normal, super-conductive contact area, we found this biosensor could detect the ultralow-abundance nucleic acids in complex biological media.”
This fusion of biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, point-of-care diagnostics and biology could be a critical inflection point for how we diagnose and treat chronic diseases in future.