To move forward in biomedical research, new technologies are needed to revolutionize the field. One example, microarray analysis, has recently shown promise by offering an opportunity to study protein-protein interactions that may uncover drug targets or provide early disease detection. Unfortunately, the method is not without its flaws.
“Conventional technologies rely on fluorescent tagged proteins, which are costly and time-consuming and can be inaccurate due to steric interference, quenching, and photo-bleaching,” said Professor Hatice Altug (ECE).
She and her research team recently offered a solution in a paper that appeared on the cover of Lab on a Chip November 10.
“Compared to conventional microarray technologies, we demonstrate large area plasmonic microarrays that can reliably enable quantitative and real-time detection in a label-free fashion,” said Min Huang (ECE), one of the researchers on the project.
The research group for the paper includes representatives from Boston University (Altug; graduate students, Huang and Serap Aksu (MSE); and Ali Yanik, a former post-doctoral associate) – and researchers from MIT (Tsung-Yao Chang, Hsin-Yu Tsai, Peng Shi and Professor Mehmet Fatih Yanik).
Using nanoplasmonics and large area nanofabrication, the group was able to place over one million sensors on a single microscope slide.
“We also introduced a dual-color filter imaging method to increase the accuracy, reliability, and signal-to-noise ratio of the sensors for working in a highly multiplexed format with reduced image acquisition time,” added Chang.
The on-chip configuration of the sensor allows for direct integration with micro-fluidics, which enables automated sample preparation and processing.
The platform designed by Altug’s research team is also compatible with existing microarray spotters and scanners.
“Because of their compatibility, there can be rapid implementation of the next generation of microarray technologies,” said Altug. “This new solution could become a powerful tool for biomedical sciences and pharmacology.”
-Rachel Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)