A tiny nanowire sensor — smaller than the width of a human hair, 1,000 times more sensitive than conventional DNA tests, and capable of producing results in minutes rather than days or weeks — could pave the way for faster, more accurate medical diagnostic tests for countless conditions and may ultimately save lives by allowing earlier disease detection and intervention, Harvard scientists say.
In preliminary laboratory studies demonstrating the capability of the new sensor, the researchers showed that it has the potential to detect the gene for cystic fibrosis more efficiently than conventional tests for the disease. CF is the most common fatal genetic disease among people of European origin.
One of a growing number of promising diagnostic tools that are based on nanotechnology, the silicon sensor represents the first example of direct electrical detection of DNA using nanotechnology, according to the researchers. The sensor and the detection of the CF gene will be described in the Jan. 14 issue of the journal Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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