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Nanoscale sensor to spot disease

Nanoscale sensor to spot disease

Image: The Cellular Environment

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) has announced that they have developed a new nanoscale sensor that can help detect cytokines—molecules that play a critical role in cellular response to infection, inflammation, trauma and disease—which, until now, have been extremely hard to measure and quantify due to their small size and their dynamic and transient nature.

Reported in the science journal ‘Nanoscale’, the sensor consists of a modified graphene quantum dot (or GQD) which has been designed by researchers at CNBP. It allows ultra-small amounts of cytokines to be identified in and around cells, with the work potentially opening up an exciting new avenue of biomedical research.

“Cytokines are molecules secreted by the cells of the immune system,” explains lead CNBP project scientist and ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Guozhen Liu, from CNBP’s Macquarie University node.

“The release of certain cytokines by the body is frequently symptomatic of a disease or health related issue, such as arthritis, inflammatory disorder or even cancer. Consequently, monitoring cytokine secretions at the cellular and sub-cellular level, has enormous value in our understanding of basic physiology and how the body is actually working.”

“What we’ve been able to do is to design and make a sensor that is so small that it can easily penetrate inside cells. Moreover, unlike other sensors it only responds when the cytokine is present.”

Media issued by CNBP.

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