Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Molecular & Clinical Diagnostics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Bioengineers at UCSB Design Rapid Diagnostic Tests Inspired by Nature

Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Bioengineers have designed inexpensive medical diagnostic tests that take only a few minutes to perform.

Their findings may aid efforts to build point-of-care devices for quick medical diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), allergies, autoimmune diseases, and a number of other diseases. The new technology could dramatically impact world health, according to the research team.

The rapid and easy-to-use diagnostic test consists of a nanometer-scale DNA "switch" that can quickly detect antibodies specific to a wide range of diseases. The research is described in an article published this month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The design was created by the research group of Kevin W. Plaxco, a professor in UCSB's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He noted that, despite the power of current diagnostic tests, a significant limitation is that they still require complex laboratory procedures. "Patients typically must wait for days or even weeks to receive the results of most STD tests," said Plaxco. "The blood sample has to be transported to the lab, its content analyzed by trained personnel, and the results sent back to the doctor's office. If we can move testing to the point of care, it eliminates the lag between testing and treatment, which would enhance the effectiveness of medical interventions, and, for infectious diseases like STDs, reduce transmission."

The key breakthrough underlying this new technology came from observing nature. "All creatures, from bacteria to humans, monitor their environments using amazing ‘molecular nanoswitches' that signal the presence of a specific target by changing their structure," said Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, a postdoctoral scholar and co-first author of the study. "For example, on the surface of our cells, there are millions of receptor proteins that detect various molecules by switching from an ‘off state' to an ‘on state.' The beauty of these switches is that they are able to work directly in very complex environments such as whole blood."

Plaxco's research group teamed with Francesco Ricci, professor at University of Rome Tor Vergata and co-first author of the paper, to build synthetic molecular switches that signal their state via a change in electric current. This change in current can be measured using inexpensive electronics similar to those in the home glucose test meter used by diabetics to check their blood sugar. Using these "nature-inspired" nanoswitches, the researchers were able to detect anti-HIV antibodies directly in whole blood in less than five minutes.

"A great advantage of these electrochemical nanoswitches is that their sensing principle can be generalized to many different targets, allowing us to build inexpensive devices that could detect dozens of disease markers in less than five minutes in the doctor's office or even at home," said Ricci.
The authors noted that it may take several years to bring the devices to the market.

The additional co-authors are Fan Xia of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China; and Takanori Uzawa of Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan.

This work was funded by the National Institute of Health, the Fond Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies; the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) project "Futuro in Ricerca;" and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through the Grand Challenges Explorations Grant.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Ultrafast DNA Diagnostics
New technology developed by UC Berkeley bioengineers promises to make a workhorse lab tool cheaper, more portable and many times faster by accelerating the heating and cooling of genetic samples with the switch of a light.
Monday, August 03, 2015
Genetic Markers for Detecting and Treating Ovarian Cancer
Custom bioinformatics algorithm identifies human mRNAs that distinguish ovarian cancer cells from normal cells and provide new therapeutic targets
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
May the Cellular Force be With You
Like tiny construction workers, cells sculpt embryonic tissues and organs in 3D space.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Chemical Signature for Fast Form of Parkinson's Found
The physical decline experienced by Parkinson's disease patients eventually leads to disability and a lower quality of life.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Discovery Could Lead to Saliva Test for Pancreatic Cancer
The disease is typically diagnosed through an invasive and complicated biopsy.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Cost-Effective Recommendations for Cancer Screening
When public health budgets are constrained, mammography screening should begin later and occur less frequently.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Sugar Helps Scientists Find and Assess Prostate Tumors
New GE technology enables UCSF researchers to safely detect tumors in real time.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Dentistry School Receives $5M to Study Saliva Biomarkers
Imagine having a sample of your saliva taken at the dentist's office, and then learning within minutes whether your risk for stomach cancer is higher than normal.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Detailed look at Genetics of Human, Mouse Embryos
Scientists have used the powerful technology of single-cell RNA sequencing to track the genetic development of a human and a mouse embryo with unprecedented accuracy.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Major Changes Urged for Cancer Screening and Treatment
Scientific panel recommends new personalized strategies to reduce cancer overtreatment.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Brain Anomolies are Potential Biomarkers for Autism
Brain anomalies may serve as potential biomarkers for the early identification of the neurodevelopmental disorder.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
App Helps Doctors, Students Learn to Diagnose Neurological Symptoms and Disease
The new app that presents a novel approach to learning the neurological physical exam, a challenging series of assessments aimed at diagnosing neurological disorders in patients.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Genetic Test Helps Predict Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence
Prostate cancer ranks as the most common internal malignancy diagnosed in men in the United States, but often does not require extensive treatment.
Friday, May 10, 2013
NIH Funds Study of Autism among African Americans
Five-year, $10 million grant to help continue research on the genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders and to expand investigations to include the genetics of autism in African Americans.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Brain-Imaging, Stroke Risk Test Identify Cognitive Decline
UCLA researchers have used a brain-imaging tool and stroke risk assessment to identify signs of cognitive decline early on in individuals who don't yet show symptoms of dementia.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Scientific News
The Changing Tides of the In Vitro Diagnostics Market
With the increasing focus in personalized medicine, diagnostics plays a crucial role in patient monitoring.
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
'Fountain of Youth' Protein Points to Possible Human Health Benefit
Patients with higher blood levels of growth factor have lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
Signature of Microbiomes Linked to Schizophrenia
Studying microbiomes in throat may help identify causes and treatments of brain disorder.
Imaging Software Could Speed Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Technology could improve access to diagnostic services in developing countries.
Data Mining DNA For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Genes
A new Northwestern Medicine genome-wide association study of PCOS – the first of its kind to focus on women of European ancestry – has provided important new insights into the underlying biology of the disorder.
Algorithm Interprets Breathing Difficulties to Aid in Medical Care
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an efficient algorithm that can interpret the wheezing of patients with breathing difficulties to give medical providers information about what’s happening in the lungs.
Researchers Develop qPCR Prognosis Test for NSCLC Patients
A nine-gene molecular prognostic index (MPI) for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was able to provide accurate survival stratification and could potentially inform the use of adjuvant therapy in patients struggling with the disease.
Genetic Test Could Improve Blood Cancer Treatment
Testing for genetic risk factors could improve treatment for myeloma – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow – by helping doctors identify patients at risk of developing more aggressive disease.
PTR-MS Breath Test Shows Potential for Detecting Liver Disease
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have published results that suggest a non-invasive breath test for liver disease using an IONICON PTR-MS.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!