Biomarkers play a central role in recognizing diseases or assessing their course. Methods that have been used to date to measure biomarkers work with molecular probes and fluorescent signals that arise from chemical and physical reactions. However, these signals must be amplified so that the tests can be used in practice for patient diagnostics.
In this study, a strategy was developed to detect biomarkers in low concentrations. DNA probes are linked to small gold or silver particles. Two particles act as a nano-antenna and amplify fluorescent signals by causing interactions between the nanoparticles and the light waves, which leads to the intensification of the electromagnetic fields and thus to an enormous increase in fluorescence. This makes it possible, for example, to detect bacteria with antibiotic resistance genes or viruses.
As an example, DNA fragments specific for antibiotic resistance in bacteria were tested, but the assay could easily be adapted for other targets such as viruses. According to the authors, in the future, this technology could also be used for diagnostic tests in areas where access to electricity or laboratory equipment is limited. With this method, small DNA fragments can be detected directly in the blood serum, while the entire assay is running on a portable, self-developed smartphone microscope. In addition to a good smartphone camera, you only need a laser and a lens: two inexpensive, readily available components.
Addressable nanoantennas with cleared hotspots for single-molecule detection on a portable smartphone microscope
Viktorija Glembockyte(1), Kateryna Trofymchuk(1), Philip Tinnefeld(1), Guillermo P. Acuna(2)
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