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J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005 Dec;32(11-12):669-74. Epub 2005 Nov 11.

A portable surface plasmon resonance sensor system for real-time monitoring of small to large analytes.

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  • 1Department of Genome Science, Division of Medical Genetics, University of Washington, P.O. Box 357720, Seattle, WA 98195-7720, USA.


Many environmental applications exist for biosensors capable of providing real-time analyses. One pressing current need is monitoring for agents of chemical- and bio-terrorism. These applications require systems that can rapidly detect small organics including nerve agents, toxic proteins, viruses, spores and whole microbes. A second area of application is monitoring for environmental pollutants. Processing of grab samples through chemical laboratories requires significant time delays in the analyses, preventing the rapid mapping and cleanup of chemical spills. The current state of development of miniaturized, integrated surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor elements has allowed for the development of inexpensive, portable biosensor systems capable of the simultaneous analysis of multiple analytes. Most of the detection protocols make use of antibodies immobilized on the sensor surface. The Spreeta 2000 SPR biosensor elements manufactured by Texas Instruments provide three channels for each sensor element in the system. A temperature-controlled two-element system that monitors for six analytes is currently in use, and development of an eight element sensor system capable of monitoring up to 24 different analytes will be completed in the near future. Protein toxins can be directly detected and quantified in the low picomolar range. Elimination of false positives and increased sensitivity is provided by secondary antibodies with specificity for different target epitopes, and by sensor element redundancy. Inclusion of more than a single amplification step can push the sensitivity of toxic protein detection to femtomolar levels. The same types of direct detection and amplification protocols are used to monitor for viruses and whole bacteria or spores. Special protocols are required for the detection of small molecules. Either a competition type assay where the presence of analyte inhibits the binding of antibodies to surface-immobilized analyte, or a displacement assay, where antibodies bound to analyte on the sensor surface are displaced by free analyte, can be used. The small molecule detection assays vary in sensitivity from the low micromolar range to the high picomolar.

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