16 September 2010
|Researchers at Boston College discovered that a cluster of carbon nanotubes coated with a thin layer of protein-recognizing polymer forms a biosensor capable of using electrochemical signals to detect minute amounts of proteins. This new biosensor could provide a crucial new diagnostic tool for the detection of cancer and other illnesses.
|The nanotube biosensor, described by Thomas Chiles and his colleagues in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology (“A molecular-imprint nanosensor for ultrasensitive detection of proteins”), proved capable of detecting human ferritin, the primary iron-storing protein of cells, and E7 oncoprotein derived from human papillomavirus. Further tests using calmodulin showed the sensor could discriminate between varieties of the protein that take different shapes, according to the multi-disciplinary team of biologists, chemists, and physicists that developed the sensor.
|Molecular imprinting techniques have shown that polymer structures can be used in the development of sensors capable of recognizing certain organic compounds, but recognizing proteins has presented a difficult set of challenges. Dr. Chiles’ team used arrays of wire-like nanotubes coated with a non-conducting polymer coating capable of recognizing proteins with subpicogram per liter sensitivity.