New research may revolutionize the slow, cumbersome, and expensive process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV. An international team of researchers has designed and synthetized a nanometer-scale DNA "machine" whose customized modifications enable it to recognize a specific target antibody. The researchers’ new approach, which they described online on September 4, 2015 in Angewandte Chemie, promises to support the development of rapid, low-cost antibody detection at the point-of-care, eliminating the the treatment initiation delays and the increasing healthcare costs associated with current techniques. The article is titled “A Modular, DNA-Based Beacon for Single-Step Fluorescence Detection of Antibodies and Other Proteins.” The binding of the antibody to the DNA machine causes a structural change (or switch), which generates a light signal. The sensor does not need to be chemically activated and is rapid (acting within five minutes), enabling the targeted antibodies to be easily detected, even in complex clinical samples such as blood serum. In the abstract of their article, the scientists technically describe their new system as follows. The scientists say they have developed “a versatile platform for the one-step fluorescence detection of both monovalent and multivalent proteins. This system is based on a conformation-switching stem–loop DNA scaffold that presents a small-molecule, polypeptide, or nucleic-acid recognition element, on each of its two stem strands. The steric strain associated with the binding of one (multivalent) or two (monovalent) target molecules to these elements opens the stem, enhancing the emission of an attached fluorophore/quencher pair.
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