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Rice UniversityCBEN
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology

In Vitro Diagnostics

TIR Images of dsDNA

TIR images of dsDNA HSP70 targets and total RNA extracted from C. parvum oocysts, or the indicated organisms. The amount of DNA and RNA targets used in each case was adjusted to ~10 fmol.

The goal of our project was to explore the use of targeted nanoparticles as contrast agents for point-of-care diagnostics.   We pursued two applications: (1) detection of cancer and (2) detection of infectious disease.  This project was initiated three years ago in response to feedback from our site visit panel suggesting pursuit of in vitro diagnostics as well as the in vivo imaging and therapeutics due to the lower risks and potentially faster pathway to clinical application and commercialization.  Within this project, biorepsonsive nanomaterials are being designed and implemented for very sensitive optical detection of disease.  With previous CBEN support, we developed targeted quantum dots to image EGFR expression, an important biomarker of cancer.  This work continues to move into more complex models, pushing towards eventual clinical application.  More recently, our efforts have expanded to detection of infectious disease in point-of-care diagnostics platforms suitable for deployment in developing countries.  Gold nanoparticles offer a cheap, versatile, and light/heat resistant alternative for detection of nucleic acids from pathogens. To date, we have developed sensitive detection assays for the detection of DNA and RNA from pathogens, C. parvum, P. falciparum, and HIV. Detection sensitivity is further enhanced by spectroscopic identification of aggregated gold nanoparticles, an approach amenable to miniaturization and mass production.

Participating Researchers: