Since the beginning of time, living organisms have developed ingenious mechanisms to monitor their environment. As part of an international study, a team of researchers has adapted some of these natural mechanisms to detect specific molecules such as cocaine more accurately and quickly. Their work may greatly facilitate the rapid screening-less than five minutes-of many drugs, infectious diseases, and cancers.
Professor Alexis Vall-e-B-lisle of the University of Montreal Department of Chemistry has worked with Professor Francesco Ricci of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Professor Kevin W. Plaxco of the University of California at Santa Barbara to improve a new biosensing nanotechnology. The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of American Chemical Society (JACS).
Toward a new generation of screening tests
"Nature is a continuing source of inspiration for developing new technologies," says Professor Francesco Ricci, senior author of the study. "Many scientists are currently working to develop biosensor technology to detect-directly in the bloodstream and in seconds-drug, disease, and cancer molecules."
"The most recent rapid and easy-to-use biosensors developed by scientists to determine the levels of various molecules such as drugs and disease markers in the blood only do so when the molecule is present in a certain concentration, called the concentration window," adds Professor Vall-e-B-lisle. "Below or above this window, current biosensors lose much of their accuracy."