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ACS Nano. 2012 Apr 24;6(4):3506-13. doi: 10.1021/nn300536y. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Orthogonal amplification of nanoparticles for improved diagnostic sensing.

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Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 185 Cambridge Street, CPZN 5206, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, United States.


There remains an ongoing need for fast, highly sensitive, and quantitative technologies that can detect and profile rare cells in freshly harvested samples. Recent developments in nanomaterial-based detection platforms provide advantages over traditional approaches in terms of signal sensitivity, stability, and the possibility for performing multiplexed measurements. Here, we describe a bioorthogonal, nanoparticle amplification technique capable of rapid augmentation of detection sensitivities by up to 1-2 orders of magnitude over current methods. This improvement in sensitivity was achieved by (i) significantly reducing background noise arising from nonspecific nanoparticle binding, (ii) increasing nanomaterial binding through orthogonal rounds of amplification, and (iii) implementing a cleavage step to improve assay robustness. The developed method allowed sensitive detection and molecular profiling of scant tumor cells directly in unpurified human clinical samples such as ascites. With its high sensitivity and simplified assay steps, this technique will likely have broad utility in nanomaterial-based diagnostics.

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