Nanotechnology employed to create more sensitive medical tests

06 June 2012


Posted by John Bull

A new breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology could significantly improve the sensitivity of medical tests in the future.

A team of researchers from Princeton University in the US claims to have made a lab test for biological research and the detection of diseases three million times more sensitive than previous versions.

They employed nanotechnology to enhance the process of immunoassay, which is used to detect the presence of biomarkers for diseases by producing a fluorescent glow when they are present.

Using nanoscience, the scientists were able to identify much lower concentrations of indicators, potentially providing far earlier diagnosis for patients.

According to the Princeton team, their breakthrough could be employed to enhance testing for a range of diseases, from Alzheimer's to cancer, with nanotechnology employed to amplify fluorescent signals using tiny glass and gold structures called D2PA.

"The new assay is very easy to use, since for the person conducting the test, there will be no difference from the old one - they do the procedure in exactly the same way," revealed Stephen Chou, Princeton University Joseph C Elgin Professor of Engineering.

With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the research was published in both the journal Nanotechnology and in Analytical Chemistry.

In related news, a breach of nanotechnology security standards has been reported by the US Government, which claims details of research were stolen from a laboratory in New Mexico and given to authorities in China, KRQE-TV reports.

Jianyu Huang, former scientist at Sandia National Labs in the US is believed to have taken information that belongs to the nation and passed it off as his own, sharing data with Chinese universities via the internet.

He was reportedly arrested over the weekend, although Sandia National Labs denies he had access to classified national security information.

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