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Nat Biotechnol. 2004 Jul;22(7):883-7. Epub 2004 May 30.

Homogeneous detection of unamplified genomic DNA sequences based on colorimetric scatter of gold nanoparticle probes.

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  • 1Department of Applied Science, Nanosphere, Inc., 4088 Commercial Avenue, Northbrook, Illinois 60062, USA.


Nucleic acid diagnostics is dominated by fluorescence-based assays that use complex and expensive enzyme-based target or signal-amplification procedures. Many clinical diagnostic applications will require simpler, inexpensive assays that can be done in a screening mode. We have developed a 'spot-and-read' colorimetric detection method for identifying nucleic acid sequences based on the distance-dependent optical properties of gold nanoparticles. In this assay, nucleic acid targets are recognized by DNA-modified gold probes, which undergo a color change that is visually detectable when the solutions are spotted onto an illuminated glass waveguide. This scatter-based method enables detection of zeptomole quantities of nucleic acid targets without target or signal amplification when coupled to an improved hybridization method that facilitates probe-target binding in a homogeneous format. In comparison to a previously reported absorbance-based method, this method increases detection sensitivity by over four orders of magnitude. We have applied this method to the rapid detection of mecA in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus genomic DNA samples.

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