Diagnostic Testing Evolves with New Nanoparticle Discovery

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and Air Force Research Laboratory use nanorods that can prevent sensitive antibodies from losing activity even at elevated temperatures.

“New nanoparticle discovery may eliminate cold storage for some tests,” reads the headline in a January 5, 2017 Advanced Materials article appearing on phys.org.

The article says a team of engineers from Washington University in St. Louis and Air Force Research Laboratory have discovered “an inexpensive work-around” to the challenge of maintaining antibodies at constant low temperatures for diagnostic tests used in confirming medical conditions.

The work-around: “A protective coating that could completely eliminate the need for cold storage and change the scope of medical diagnostic testing in places where it's often needed the most,” says the story.

The research team points out that maintaining these low temperatures typically requires electricity to provide the necessary refrigeration to enable the antibodies to detect proteins, bacteria, enzymes and viruses present in illnesses and injuries. The story quotes Srikanth Singamaneni, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis as saying, “In many developing countries, electricity is not guaranteed.”

In the new research, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were grown around antibodies attached to gold nanorods. The article says, “The crystalline MOFs formed a protective layer around the antibodies and prevented them from losing activity at elevated temperatures. The protective effect lasted for a week even when the samples were stored at 60°C.”

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