The butterfly effect in nanotech medical diagnostics

February 6, 2012

Tiny metallic nanoparticles that shimmer in the light like the scales on a butterfly's wing are set to become the color-change components of a revolutionary new approach to point-of-care medical diagnostics, according to a study published in International Journal of Design Engineering.

Thomas Schalkhammer and colleagues at Attophotonics Biosciences GmbH in Austria are working with Roland Palkovits of the University of Applied Sciences, in Wiener Neustadt, to develop a nanoparticle microfluidic color device for medical diagnostics. The team has demonstrated proof of principle in the detection of as an important marker of acute sepsis.

The researchers point out that point-of-care medical diagnostics is an important part of healthcare today because it provides timely information to medical staff caring for patients as well as ensuring safety and providing useful surveillance data for emergency as well as long-term public health strategies. Various studies, including one from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have emphasized repeatedly the importance of point-of-care diagnostics. As such, researchers the world over are searching for the insights and the technology to make simple, portable, and effective diagnostic devices to meet this need.

The Austrian team has developed a novel immunoassay for gold or palladium nanoparticles that are captured via immune-reactive proteins and positioned as a thin layer just a few nanometers above a light reflective surface. The nanoparticles and the mirror form an interference system the color of which can be tuned across the visible light spectrum. A - a so-called - takes in a sample. If the target biomolecule, the disease marker, is present it will attach to the modified nanoparticles and cause a visible color change.

The addition of a silver colloidal solution enhances the effect making the metallic color change even more apparent. The tests can be performed in the clinic in just two to three minutes and importantly avoids any medical laboratory bottlenecks and incubation times for samples. The team reports that the tests are highly accurate and sensitive to a mere half a millionth of a milligram (500 picograms) per milliliter of sample. The nanoparticle test works even if the sample is cloudy.

Explore further: New lab-on-a-chip can detect heart and gum disease instantly

More information: "Development of a nanoparticle microfluidic colour device for point-of-care diagnostics" in Int. J. Design Engineering, vol 4, 159-185

Related Stories

New lab-on-a-chip can detect heart and gum disease instantly

January 28, 2005

Someday in the not-too-distant future patients may visit a doctor’s office, provide a sample of saliva or blood, and know in minutes if they are prone to heart disease, gum disease, or cancer. There would be no sending ...

New Nanoparticle to Help Researchers Study Angiogenesis

January 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Adah Almutairi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, is first author of a paper recently published in the Proceedings ...

Researchers use gold nanoparticles to diagnose flu in minutes

August 4, 2011

Arriving at a rapid and accurate diagnosis is critical during flu outbreaks, but until now, physicians and public health officials have had to choose between a highly accurate yet time-consuming test or a rapid but error-prone ...

Recommended for you

Graphene under pressure

August 25, 2016

Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at the University of Manchester report.

Designing ultrasound tools with Lego-like proteins

August 25, 2016

Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose disease. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology ...

Nanovesicles in predictable shapes

August 25, 2016

Beads, disks, bowls and rods: scientists at Radboud University have demonstrated the first methodological approach to control the shapes of nanovesicles. This opens doors for the use of nanovesicles in biomedical applications, ...

'Artificial atom' created in graphene

August 22, 2016

In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom - for this reason, such electron ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.