Next generation transduction pathways for nano-bio-chip array platforms
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In the following work, nanoparticle quantum dot (QD) fluorophores have been exploited to measure biologically relevant analytes via a miniaturized sensor ensemble to provide key diagnostic and prognostic information in a rapid, yet sensitive manner—data essential for effective treatment of many diseases including HIV/AIDS and cancer. At the heart of this “nano-bio-chip” (NBC) sensor is a modular chemical/cellular processing unit consisting of either a polycarbonate membrane filter for cell-based assays, or an agarose bead array for detection of biomarkers in serum or saliva. Two applications of the NBC sensor system are described herein, both exhibiting excellent correlation to reference methods ((R² above 0.94), with analysis times under 30 minutes and sample volumes below 50 [mu]L. First, the NBC sensor was employed for the sequestration and enumeration of T lymphocytes, cells specifically targeted by HIV, from whole blood samples. Several different conjugation methods linking QDs to recognition biomolecules were extensively characterized by biological and optical methods, with a thiol-linked secondary antibody labeling scheme yielding intense, specific signal. Using this technique, the photostability of QDs was exploited, as was the ability to simultaneously visualize different color QDs via a single light pathway, effectively reducing optical requirements by half. Further, T-cell counts were observed well below the 200/[mu]L discriminator between HIV and AIDS and across the common testing region, demonstrating the first reported example of cell counting via QDs in an enclosed, disposable device. Next, multiplexed bead-based detection of cancer protein biomarkers CEA, Her-2/Neu, and CA125 in serum and saliva was examined using a sandwich immunoassay with detecting antibodies covalently bound to QDs. This nano-based signal was amplified 30 times versus molecular fluorophores and cross talk in multiplexed experiments was less than 5%. In addition, molecular-level tuning of recognition elements (size, concentration) and agarose porosity resulted in NBC limits of detection two orders of magnitude lower than ELISA, values competitive with the most sensitive methods yet reported (0.021 ng/mL CEA). Taken together, these efforts serve to establish the valuable role of QDs in miniaturized diagnostic devices with potential for delivering biomedical information rapidly, reliably, and robustly.