19 Oct 2006
A laser-based technique for rapid - and multiple - protein identification promises a multi-functional optical biosensor with particular applications in disease diagnosis.
One common non-invasive method for complex disease identification is based on determining the proteins that are the markers for the disease. Substantial emphasis has been placed on developing tag-free methods for more rapid identification of protein markers, while another important requirement is the ability to detect multiple proteins simultaneously, as a single protein marker generally does not result in conclusive diagnosis.
In a paper in Nanotechnology, researchers at Portland State University, US, have demonstrated a technique for rapid protein identification as well as determining the density of the protein biomolecules using an optical laser-based system. This technique also has potential for performing multiplexed detection.
The findings show that it is possible to develop a highly sensitive, optical biomolecule sensor that can distinguish between biomolecules based on a variation in light intensity due to a change in the path of coupled input light. The variation to the coupled light intensity and path depends on the nature of the biomolecule and the density of the biomolecules.
The Portland State team demonstrated that they could use standard microstructures fabricated in a non-cleanroom environment to develop a platform-based optical sensor that can detect specific protein biomolecules.
This technique has potential for performing multiplexed protein detection. The eventual goal is to develop optical lab-on-a-chip devices capable of detecting biomolecules that are indicators of specific disease states.