Safe diagnoses of diseases, identification of multidrug-resistant germs, detection of beginning epidemics at an early stage or detection of toxins and pathogens in drinking water and food in even the lowest concentrations – these are major challenges and goals of current research programs. One of the most promising tools for these tasks are novel and considerably improved biosensors. The project “BioSensing” of the Fraunhofer Institutes for Silicate Research ISC and for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Leiden University, Institute of Physics aims to overcome the limits of modern biosensors with the help of quantum technology.
Medical diagnoses could be even more reliable and efficient with the use of biosensors, but researchers face great challenges. The sensors should be sufficiently sensitive to detect even the smallest amounts of pathogens in the blood or other biological fluids.
At the same time, they should be able to identify even difficult-to-diagnose diseases in real time so that effective therapy procedures can start at an early stage.
These tasks are to be mastered with novel biosensors based on quantum effects in the project “BioSensing”, funded within the framework of the Fraunhofer program “ICON”. The project focuses on a novel class of biological nanomaterials, so-called DNA-stabilized metal quantum clusters (QC-DNA), which are used as “quantum biosensors”.
In their simplest form, these biosensors consist of a short DNA sequence that encloses a group of six to fifteen metal atoms called metal cluster. The choice of DNA sequence determines the sensor characteristics and which disease is detected. The basic structure of a quantum biosensor can be extended by additional specific biomolecules and thus be used for the detection of selected biomarkers.
But how do researchers recognize that a quantum biosensor has detected a specific disease? They use the fluorescence properties of the metal cluster. If a successful detection has taken place, the wavelength of the light emitted by the metal clusters changes.
QC-DNA are suitable for the development of highly sensitive sensors in biological systems and provide solutions for an advanced, intelligent and affordable therapy.
But such a quantum biosensor not only responds to diseases (caused by germs or even mutations in the genome), but also to changing environmental conditions, such as an increase of salt concentrations.
Further applications are possible such as the monitoring of food and forage or the use in environmental analysis. A significant advantage is the cost-effective production of quantum biosensors.
So far, tests were limited to the lab, but the project partners of Fraunhofer ISC, IME and Leiden University in the Netherlands have set themselves the goal of designing various quantum biosensors, scaling them up to pilot scale and preparing them for feasibility studies in university hospitals.
In follow-up projects, the partners plan to develop a portable read-out device that works cost-effectively, highly sensitively, quickly and reliably and detects various pathogens, toxins or cancer cells.
The Fraunhofer program “ICON - International Cooperation and Networking” supports bilateral research cooperation with international centers of excellence, for example universities, and creates opportunities to transfer basic research results into practice.
For the project “BioSensing” a cooperation with the Leiden University, Institute of Physics was established. Prof. Dr. Dirk Bouwmeester is one of the world's recognized researchers in the field of quantum physics. His research focus is on quantum optics and quantum information with a strong interest in DNA-stabilized metal quantum clusters. His fundamentally oriented research of QC DNA properties will yield completely new insights into the quantum physical relationships of these materials, necessary for the development of highly efficient biosensors.
The Fraunhofer ISC will use its many years of experience in the chemical synthesis and characterization of materials as well as in the development of biomaterials for the design and manufacture of quantum biosensors. For this purpose, Prof. Dr. Doris Heinrich and her 3D NanoCell Group study the dependence of the quantum biosensor synthesis on the starting materials and the synthesis process conditions. In addition, they develop microfluidic lab-on-chip systems for diagnostics.
The Fraunhofer IME with the working group of Dr. Greta Nölke has many years of experience in the field of recombinant protein and antibody technologies, the functionalization of biomolecules and the development of detection technologies and assays for the detection of pathogens and toxins. Further work includes cell based assays for high throughput microscopy on biological markers and for the evaluation of toxicity of e.g. nanomaterials.
Marie-Luise Righi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung ISC
If Machines Could Smell ...
19.07.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA
Algae-killing viruses spur nutrient recycling in oceans
18.07.2019 | Rutgers University
Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.
In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...
Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.
Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...
Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.
Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...
For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.
Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".
The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences