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Researchers build biosensor to detect Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancers

July 1, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Imagine: A diagnosistic test for breast cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Researchers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) in Campinas, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, have designed a new nanometric biosensor that can quickly detect molecules linked to diseases not readily or easily detectable, especially not in the early stages. The biosenser could be a game changer that could allow for earlier and more proacitve treatments. 
"This is the first time organic transistor technology has been used in detecting the pair GSH-GST," says Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon, Head of LNNano's FUnctional Devices & Systems Lab, in a press release. "The device can detect such molecules even when they're present at very low levels in the examined material, thanks to its nanometric sensitivity. Platforms like this one can be deployed to diagnose complex diseases quickly, safely and relatively cheaply, using nanometer-scale systems to identify molecules of interest in the material analyzed."
The biosensor is a highly sensitive single-layer organic transister mounted on a glass slide that contains a reduced form of a peptide known as glutathione (GSH). The peptide, when exposed to the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST)--associated with nejurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancers--creates a reaction that is detected by the transistor.
The biosensor is part of a larger project for LNNano researchers to develop point-of-care devices using functional materials to produce simple sensors and microfluidic systmes for rapid diagnosis. Researchers are also working on paper-biosensors to reduce costs further while improving portability and fabrication along with disposal. Their findings are published in the journal Organic Electronics