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

re chemically modified to specifically bind to a DNA marker that is unique to a particular pathogen.

When the hMRS bind to the pathogen's DNA, a magnetic resonance signal is detected, which is amplified by the water molecules that surround the nanoparticle. Then the researcher can read the change in the magnetic signature on a computer screen or portable electronic device, such as a smartphone, and determine whether the sample is infected with a particular pathogen.

The researchers used Mycobacterium avium spp. paratuberculosis (MAP), a pathogen that has been implicated in the cause of Johne's disease in cattle and Crohn's disease in humans, to test out their technique. They used a large number of blood and biopsy tissue samples from patients with Crohn's disease and meat samples from cattle with Johne's disease.

"It is all about giving medical professionals easy and reliable tools to better understand the spread of a disease, while helping people get treatment faster," said Perez, who works at UCF's Nanoscience Technology Center. "That's my goal. And that's where nanotechnology really has a lot to offer, particularly when the technology has been validated using clinical, food and environmental samples as is in our case."

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which is a part of the National Institutes of Health, and funded the research, said this kind of basic research can provide the foundation for medical breakthroughs.

"Just last year, Dr. Perez and his team unexpectedly discovered the DNA binding property of their magnetic nanosensors, and now they have shown that it may become the basis for a rapid, sensitive lab test for hard-to-measure bacteria and viruses in patient samples," said Janna Wehrle, Ph.D., of NIGMS. "This is a wonderful example of how quickly an advance can move from the research bench to meet an important clinical need."


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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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