Is Graphene the Key to Making Low-Cost Disease Diagnostic Systems?

Biomarker molecules are indicative of disease states and physicists at the University of Pennsylvania have just created a new graphene-based sensor that may soon be used as a low-cost way to test for them. The research was a collaboration with Penn chemists, and was led by Jinglei Ping, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences, A.T. Charlie Johnson, a physics professor, Katherine Pulsipher, a post doctorate in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The graphene micro electrode is a sensor that measures the current flowing between a liquid sample and the surface of the graphene. Chemistry professor Ivan Dmochowski and his group have been studying how inorganic nanoparticles interact with proteins, specifically, a protein called ferritin. This particular protein is known for storing large amounts of iron. One of thermophilic ferritin’s features is that it can assemble in high salt and disassemble in low salt. Dmochowski explained, “What we found some years ago, is that we could take salt out of the equation and work in low salt where the protein would normally be dissembled and put in a gold nanoparticle with a coating that makes it very charged in solution with the ferritin. The nanoparticle is spontaneously encapsulated by the protein, like a ship in a bottle.”[…]


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