Device detects disease molecules

24 May 2016

A simple electronic device has been developed which detects biomolecules related to various types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) developed the device, a transistor with an organic layer on a nanometric scale, in liquid medium, which can easily identify the peptide reduced glutathione (GSH) and the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST).

Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon, Head of LNNano's Functional Devices & Systems Lab (DSF), explained platforms like this one can be deployed to diagnose complex neurodegenerative diseases such as such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's quickly, safely and relatively cheaply, using nanometre-scale systems to identify molecules of interest in the material analysed. The device is both portable and cheap and is also particularly sensitive in detecting biomolecules. Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon added that the device can detect molecules even when they're present at very low levels in the examined material, thanks to its nanometric sensitivity.

The device can also be altered in order to detect other substances, including biomolecules linked to a range of different diseases in contaminated materials. This process requires replacing the molecules in the sensor with others that react with the chemicals targeted by the test, which are known as analytes. DSF is planning to continue its work on biosensors in order to lower the cost even further and make them even more portable.

The work was authored by researchers Rafael Furlan de Oliveira, Leandro Silva of Mercy and Tatiana Parra Vello, under the coordination of Carlos César Bof Bufon at DSF. This study was recently published in Organic Electronics and research is continuing on a variety of platforms for chemical sensing, biological and physical, focused on national and international strategic sectors, including health, environment and energy. 

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