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Super-sensitive tests could detect diseases earlier
Date:5/27/2012

vels of PSA at ultralow concentrations can be crucial in the early diagnosis of the reoccurrence of prostate cancer, but classic detection approaches are not sensitive enough to carry out this analysis with a high degree of accuracy. The new test could enable more reliable diagnosis, but more research will need to be done to further explore its potential.

In their study, the team detected PSA at 0.000000000000000001 grams per millilitre, which is at the limits of current biosensor performance. By comparison, an existing test called an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test can detect PSA at 0.000000001 grams per millilitre, which is nine orders of magnitude more concentrated.

The biosensors used in today's study consist of nanoscopic-sized gold stars floating in a solution containing other blood derived proteins. Attached to the surface of these gold stars are antibodies, which latch onto PSA when they detect it in a sample. A secondary antibody, which has an enzyme called glucose oxidase attached to it, recognises the PSA and creates a distinctive silver crystal coating on the gold stars, which is more apparent when the PSA biomarkers are in low concentrations. This silver coating acts like a signal that PSA is present, and it can be easily detected by scientists using optical microscopes.

The next stage of the research will see the team carrying out further clinical testing to assess the efficacy of the biosensor in detecting a range of different biomarkers associated with conditions such as HIV and other infections. They will also explore ways of commercialising their product.
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Contact: Colin Smith
cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46712
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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