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Nano Clast - University of Toronto/London Center for Nanotechnology - Gold nanoparticles enable simple & sensitive sensor for early disease detection

Credit - University of TorontoAs an emerging market - Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are increasingly the first choice for enabling early disease detection (as nano-sensors for medical diagnostics).  Primarily due to AuNPs ability to detect bio-markers at very low concentrations - instigated through a surface-enhancement reaction, typically known as Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS).  For example, at low concentrations AuNPs undergo an intense color change - especially when in the presence of certain targets.

Last year researchers from London Center for Nanotechnology (LCN) at Imperial College London (ICL) employed AuNPs and plasmonics to create a bio-sensor, which was capable of detecting minute amounts of a bio-marker.  Simultaneously in research led by Professor Warren Chan of the University of Toronto Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), then they have exploited the unique capabilities of AuNPs to create a simple but highly sensitive diagnostic tool for detecting diseases.

Typically a design for AuNP based bio-sensors involves DNA strands being attracted to the particles.  In such methods - the AuNPs clump together when in the presence of a target gene turning the sample blue.  However, comparatively the method developed by the University of Toronto team involves submerging the AuNPs into a DNA-based enzyme (DNA-zyme) solution.  When the DNA-zyme and AuNPs solution comes into the presence of the disease gene, the DNA-zyme effectively cuts the DNA from the AuNPs, which turns them a bright red color.  As stated by the IBBME PhD student - Kyryl Zagorovsky - "It's like a pair of scissors," and "The target gene activates the scissors that cut the DNA links holding gold particles together,"

Alternatively the London researchers smartly employed the rapidly popular method of plasmonics with their AuNPs bio-sensor to boost the signal for the sensor, the Canadian team found that their method results in a bio-sensor capable of detecting very low concentrations of DNA without requiring a boost to the signal.  Furthermore, to it being very sensitive, the researchers claim that the device can also test for numerous diseases in parallel.

The increasing question amongst nano-technologist commercial personnel, is whilst high-sensitivity and multiple-target capabilities are key - the underlying aim is to make sure future AuNPs devices are simple.  As stated by Chan "There's been a lot of emphasis in developing simple diagnostics," and "The question is, how do you make it simple enough, portable enough?"

In summary, it is claimed by the researchers, that they have definitely ticked the above box by demonstrating that the testing solution can be made into a powder form, so that it can be easily transported and will not degrade over time.  When in the powder form the researchers claim that a test could be developed around the nanotechnology, which could be sold as an Over-the-Counter (OtC) test for detecting HIV or malaria.  As a concluding remark Chan states "We've now put all the pieces together."  Original article available here

In Principle DCN Corp does not find the above research milestone, but more so a confirmation of the future ahead.  For example, DCN Corp has also developed a novel nano displacement protocol, whereby its subsequent commercialisation could be achieved as described above.  In other words carrying the AuNPs as a powder originally and synthesising it into a sol-gel for subsequent dip coating.  Thus, in comparison to the above - DCN Corp's dip coating process would reveal a superior bio-sensor, because of the greater sphere of AuNPs reproducibility, repeatability and/or reliability.  If you or your colleagues are interested in making the above a reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.