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Truly sick or simply scared?
Date:9/22/2007

BOSTON Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have discovered a way to increase the sensitivity of test strips that will enable creation of a portable biosensor that can address a major concern associated with incidents involving chemical or nerve agents the need to quickly distinguish between individuals who have been exposed and the worried well.

The sensor components resemble a pregnancy test strip and a small glucose testing meter. Its development will be discussed by principal investigator Yuehe Lin at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Every disease has biomarkers, a change in the proteins that announces something is wrong. Lin and his team are creating a nanoparticle label that can increase the ability of a sensor to detect and interpret the message of biomarkers.

Current test strip based-immunoassay technology has very good selectivity, but it can only give a positive or negative response, Lin said.

The researchers are working with an electrochemical immunoassay approach. This involves using the antibody of a specific disease a protein produced in response to an invading bacterium or other foreign substance to attract the biomarker. Lin found that labeling a second antibody with a nanoparticle amplifies the biomarkers signal. Greater amplification means more precise readings.

Researchers at PNNL are developing a portable biomonitor to rapidly evaluate tiny samples of blood or saliva for exposure to nerve agents.

Lin achieves this by removing the iron from a nanoparticle-sized ball of the protein ferrin, creating an empty cage called apoferritin, which he then loads with another metal, such as cadmium. The cadmium-fi lled cage is attached to one end of the reporting antibody, and the immuno-reaction product becomes electroactive.

The electrochemical signal is amplified several hundreds to thousand times because of the metal ions, Lin said. This
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Contact: Geoff Harvey
geoffrey.harvey@pnl.gov
509-372-6083
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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