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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Nanosensor update From: Sensor Review, Volume 32, Issue 4
For over a decade, attempts have been made to commercialise nanobiosensor technologies and many of the companies involve are university spin-outs. Many have targeted the healthcare markets with products aimed at simplifying, speeding-up or reducing the cost of laboratory analytical and diagnostic procedures. Technologies have included functionalised CNTs and noble metal nanoparticles, porous silicon and metallic nanoparticle-enhanced surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
As discussed in a previous Nanosensor update (Vol. 31, no. 2) these early start-ups have met with mixed fortunes. Of the newer companies mentioned, Argent Diagnostics appears to have made little commercial progress and although Alpha Szenszor has developed its “NanoBio Chip”, which is aimed at applications in the infectious disease, food testing and pharmacogentic fields, it appears still to be at the pre-production stage. Nevertheless, new nanobiosensor manufacturer continue to emerge and an example is Vista Therapeutics, Inc. which was recently spun-out from Harvard University. The technology is based on silicon nanowires which are functionalised with antibodies or other biomolecules and act as the gate in a FET structure. When the target molecules flow over the nanowires, they bind to the surface, changing the wire’s conductivity. The company’s “NanoBioSensor System” products are aimed at detecting clinical biomarkers. In typical lab settings, the detection limit is in the mid-picomolar range, although for some biomarkers the limit is at the attomolar level. The company claims that the technology offers a number of significant benefits over alternative biomarker detection methods, notably the rapid provision of results (∼60 s) and the need for minimal sample volumes (∼50 μL). Another recent start-up is nanoRETE, Inc. which was founded in 2011 to commercialise nanosensor technologies developed at Michigan State University. The aim is to develop a portable, nanobiosensor-based product to detect pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, anthrax and tuberculosis, cost effectively and in real-time. The technology is based on the electrochemical determination of the reaction of these pathogens with magnetic nanoparticles, functionalised with monoclonal antibodies or DNA sequences. It is anticipated that the product will be highly sensitive and rapid, being able to detect 1 cell/mL in less than 1 h. The company is currently focusing on bio-defense applications but future uses may include food and water safety monitoring, pharmaceutical development and anti-counterfeiting.
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