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Graphene sensor tracks down cancer biomarkers


Graphene sensor tracks down cancer biomarkers
2014-09-19
(Press-News.org) An ultrasensitive biosensor made from the wonder material graphene has been used to detect molecules that indicate an increased risk of developing cancer.

The biosensor has been shown to be more than five times more sensitive than bioassay tests currently in use, and was able to provide results in a matter of minutes, opening up the possibility of a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tool for patients.

The biosensor has been presented today, 19 September, in IOP Publishing's journal 2D Materials.

To develop a viable bionsensor, the researchers, from the University of Swansea, had to create patterned graphene devices using a large substrate area, which was not possible using the traditional exfoliation technique where layers of graphene are stripped from graphite.

Instead, they grew graphene onto a silicon carbide substrate under extremely high temperatures and low pressure to form the basis of the biosensor. The researchers then patterned graphene devices, using semiconductor processing techniques, before attaching a number of bioreceptor molecules to the graphene devices. These receptors were able to bind to, or target, a specific molecule present in blood, saliva or urine.

The molecule, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), is produced when DNA is damaged and, in elevated levels, has been linked to an increased risk of developing several cancers. However, 8-OHdG is typically present at very low concentrations in urine, so is very difficult to detect using conventional detection assays, known as enzyme-linked immunobsorbant assays (ELISAs).

In their study, the researchers used x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy to confirm that the bioreceptor molecules had attached to the graphene biosensor once fabricated, and then exposed the biosensor to a range of concentrations of 8-OHdG.

When 8-OHdG attached to the bioreceptor molecules on the sensor, there was a notable difference in the graphene channel resistance, which the researchers were able to record.

Results showed that the graphene sensor was capable of detecting 8-OHdG concentrations as low as 0.1 ng mL-1, which is almost five times more sensitive compared with ELISAs. The graphene biosensor was also considerably faster at detecting the target molecules, completing the analysis in a matter of minutes.

Moving forward, the researchers highlight the potential of the biosensor to diagnose and monitor a whole range of diseases as it is quite simple to substitute the specific receptor molecules on the graphene surface.

Co-author of the study Dr Owen Guy said: "Graphene has superb electronic transport properties and has an intrinsically high surface-to-volume ratio, which make it an ideal material for fabricating biosensors.

Now that we've created the first proof-of-concept biosensor using epitaxial graphene, we will look to investigate a range of different biomarkers associated with different diseases and conditions, as well as detecting a number of different biomarkers on the same chip."

INFORMATION: From Friday 19 September, this paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.iop.org/2053-1583/1/2/025004/article

Notes to Editors

Contact

1. For further information, a full draft of the journal paper or contact with one of the researchers, contact IOP Press Officer, Michael Bishop: Tel: 0117 930 1032 E-mail: michael.bishop@iop.org For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy.

IOP Publishing Journalist Area

2. The The IOP Publishing Journalist Area gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advanced copies of papers, supplementary images and videos. In addition to this, a weekly news digest is uploaded into the Journalist Area every Friday, highlighting a selection of newsworthy papers set to be published in the following week. Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform. To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email Michael Bishop, IOP Press Officer, michael.bishop@iop.org, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username.

Generic epitaxial graphene biosensors for ultrasensitive detection of cancer risk biomarker

3. The published version of the paper 'Generic epitaxial graphene biosensors of ultrasensitive detection of cancer risk biomarker' (Z Tehrani et al 2014 2D Mater. 1 025004) will be available online from Friday 19 September. It will be available at http://iopscience.iop.org/2053-1583/1/2/025004/article.

2D Materials

4. 2D Materials is a multidisciplinary, electronic-only journal devoted to publishing fundamental and applied research of the highest quality and impact covering all aspects of graphene and related two-dimensional materials.

IOP Publishing

5. IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. Beyond our traditional journals programme, we make high-value scientific information easily accessible through an ever-evolving portfolio of books, community websites, magazines, conference proceedings and a multitude of electronic services.

IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute. Go to ioppublishing.org.

Access to Research

6. Access to Research is an initiative through which the UK public can gain free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research at their local library. This article is freely available through this initiative. For more information, go to http://www.accesstoresearch.org.uk

The Institute of Physics

6. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application.

We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.

In September 2013, we launched our first fundraising campaign. Our campaign, Opportunity Physics, offers you the chance to support the work that we do.

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Graphene sensor tracks down cancer biomarkers

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