Atomic model of a glucose oxidase enzyme molecule. This enzyme oxidizes glucose and produces electrons that can be channeled into an electrode through a gold nanoparticle connection. This system can be used to better detect glucose for diabetic patients. The technique might also be applied in the rapid and inexpensive detection of pollutants, infections, disease markers, or agents of bioterrorism
Three molecules of glucose oxidase, two wired with gold nanoparticles (yellow, indicated by arrows), visualized with the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) in Brookhaven Labs biology department
Could yield biosensors with greater sensitivity, specificity
Scientists at Hebrew University, Israel, in collaboration with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, have devised a way to use gold nanoparticles as tiny electrical wires to plug enzymes into electrodes. The gold “nanoplugs” help align the molecules for optimal binding and provide a conductive pathway for the flow of electrons. The research, described in the March 21, 2003, issue of Science, may yield more sensitive, inexpensive, noninvasive detectors for measuring biological molecules, including, potentially, agents of bioterrorism.
The idea behind the technology, says Brookhaven biologist Jim Hainfeld, who developed the gold nanoparticles and the means of attaching them to other molecules, is to measure the current as an indicator of the number of biological molecules involved in the reaction.
Karen McNulty Walsh | DOE/BNL
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