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UCF scientists use nanotechnology to hunt for hidden pathogens
Date:4/9/2012

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed a novel technique that may give doctors a faster and more sensitive tool to detect pathogens associated with inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease.

The new nanoparticle-based technique also may be used for detection of other microbes that have challenged scientists for centuries because they hide deep in human tissue and are able to reprogram cells to successfully evade the immune system.

The microbes reappear years later and can cause serious health problems such as seen in tuberculosis cases. Current testing methods to find these hidden microbes exist, but require a long time to complete and often delay effective treatment for weeks or even months.

UCF Associate Professor J. Manuel Perez and Professor Saleh Naser and their research team have developed a method using nanoparticles coated with DNA markers specific to the elusive pathogens. The technique is effective and more accurate than current methods at picking up even small amounts of a pathogen. More important, it takes hours instead of weeks or months to deliver results, potentially giving doctors a quicker tool to help patients.

"Our new technique has surpassed traditional molecular and microbiological methods," said Naser, a professor at the UCF College of Medicine. "Without compromising specificity or sensitivity, the nano-method produced reliable and accurate results within hours compared to months."

The group's translational research works is published in today's edition of the journal PLOS One. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0035326

The team created hybridizing magnetic relaxation nanosensors (hMRS) that can fish out and detect minuscule amounts of DNA from pathogens hiding within a patient's cells. The hair-thin hMRS are composed of a polymer-coated iron oxide nanoparticle and a
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Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
zenaida.kotala@ucf.edu
407-823-6120
University of Central Florida
Source:Eurekalert  

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