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Scientists create dual-modality microbeads to improve identification of disease biomarkers

Analyzing human blood for a very low virus concentration or a sample of water for a bioterrorism agent has always been a time-consuming and difficult process. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have developed an easier and faster method to detect these types of target molecules in liquid samples using highly porous, micron-sized, silica beads.

The researchers developed a technique to simultaneously or sequentially add optical and magnetic nanoparticles into the beads. Adding magnetic nanoparticles allows the use of a magnetic field to attract and easily remove the beads from a liquid sample.

"These nanoparticles enter the pores of the microbeads so quickly and so completely -- essentially more than 99 percent of the nanoparticles go into the pores of the beads," explained Shuming Nie, the head researcher on the project and the Wallace H. Coulter Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Engineering and director of Emory-Georgia Tech Nanotechnology Center.

The beads are mixed in a liquid such as urine. Viruses, proteins or other biomarkers are captured on the bead surface. After the beads are removed from the liquid, optical imaging is used to determine the concentration of a specific protein or virus in the liquid sample based on the number of proteins or viruses attached to the surface of the beads.

Tushar Sathe, a graduate student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, described the process of creating these novel beads and their clinical applications on Jan. 20 at SPIE Photonics West in San Jose, California. The work was also published in the Aug. 15 issue of Analytical Chemistry.

The technology involves embedding fluorescent quantum dots and magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles inside the beads to create dual-modality magneto-optical beads. Nie and Sathe synthesize the quantum dots in different colors by varying t
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Source:Georgia Institute of Technology Research News


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