A team of UCLA researchers has found a way to speed up and simplify the detection of proteins in blood and plasma opening up the potential for diagnosing the early presence of infectious diseases or cancer during a doctor’s office visit. The new test takes about 10 minutes as opposed to two to four hours for current state-of-the-art tests. The new approach overcomes several key challenges in detecting proteins that are biomarkers of disease. First, these proteins are often at low abundance in body fluids and accurately identifying them requires amplification processes. The current approach employs enzymes to amplify the signal from proteins. However, enzymes can break down if they are not stored at proper temperatures. Also, to avoid a false positive, excess enzymes need to be washed away. This increases the complexity and cost of the test. The new study, which included researchers from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, the California NanoSystems Institute, and the David Geffen School of Medicine, was published online in the journal ACS Nano. The article is titled “Homogeneous Entropy-Driven Amplified Detection of Biomolecular Interactions.” The researchers included lead author Dr. Donghyuk Kim, a UCLA post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering and Dr. Dino Di Carlo, a professor of bioengineering. They collaborated with Dr. Aydogan Ozcan, Chancellor’s Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering and Dr. Omai Garner, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The UCLA team devised an approach to amplify a protein signal without using any enzymes, thus eliminating the need for a complex system to wash away excess enzymes, and that would work only in the presence of the target protein.
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