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NRL partners with industry to develop compact biosensor for wide-ranging applications
Date:2/3/2009

sulting in a decrease in the resistance of the GMR material. Dr. Baselt realized this very sensitive phenomenon could have potential in the development of sensors for biological materials which are naturally biochemically specific, but are not usually magnetic. By attaching tiny paramagnetic particles to biomolecules, such as proteins or single-stranded DNA, scientists could then perform standard sandwich-type immuno or nucleic acid hybridization assays over the GMR sensors. The GMR sensors, each covered with complementary protein or single-stranded DNA (the "probe"), could then detect the magnetically labeled biomolecules (the "target") the assays were designed to identify.

A decade in the making, the instrumentation that reads the BARC chip is called the "compact Bead Array Sensor System" (cBASS). NRL's current engineering team is led by Dr. Cy Tamanaha, working with Dr. Jack Rife, Mr. Matthew Kniller, and Mr. Michael Malito. The engineering team has worked to make many improvements to cBASS, including:

  • a new quick assembly assay cartridge with an integrated microfluidic cell, PCMCIA interface and kinematic microfluidics bus;
  • an onboard fully automated fluidic valve and pumping system;
  • a new electromagnet design with lower power requirements;
  • a faster data exchange via USB with the controlling computer; and
  • a rechargeable battery unit for enhanced portability (they have shrunk cBASS down to approximately the size of a shoebox).

Ultimately, the success of the NRL's magnetoelectronic biosensor depends on the performance of the microbead label assays whose continued development is currently spearheaded by Dr. Shawn Mulvaney with the assistance of Ms. Kristina Myers. Over the past several years, NRL has made significant strides in surface biofunctionalization and assay development. With these advances, they have achieved high sensitivity and speed; low, non-specific binding with femtomolar DNA and a
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Contact: Donna McKinney
donna.mckinney@nrl.navy.mil
202-404-3322
Naval Research Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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