A team of University of Florida researchers has created tiny hybrid particles that can speedily root out even one isolated E. coli bacterium lurking in ground beef or provide a crucial early warning alarm for bacteria used as agents of bioterrorism and for early disease diagnosis. The study will appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Our focus is the development of a bionanotechnology that combines the strengths of nanotechnology and biochemistry to generate a new type of bionanomaterial, which has some unique properties," said Weihong Tan, a UF Research Foundation professor of chemistry and associate director of UFs Center for Research at the Bio/Nano Interface. "Because of these properties, were able to finish the detection of a single bacterium in 20 minutes."
Bionanotechnology is a new frontier of research that combines two seemingly incompatible materials – the building blocks of life and synthetic structures – at a tiny, molecular-sized scale. Nanotechnology works with objects that are on the order of 1 to 100 nanometers; a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, about the size of several atoms. When combined with molecular biology, the possible applications of this nano-frontier are widespread and sound like the stuff of science fiction. Scientists currently are designing microscopic "nanobots", bioprobes and biosensors that, once implanted in the human body, could perform a number of medical duties, from delivering drugs to detecting malignant cells.
Weihong Tan | EurekAlert!
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