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A Newly Developed Nanosensor Quickly Detects Disease

The test, developed by Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, can detect proteases, enzyme markers that are responsible for the progression of many diseases.

A new enzyme biomarker test, developed by Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, has the potential to indicate diseases and bacterial contamination.

The nanosensor test can detect enzyme markers of disease known as proteases in humans, animals, and food products. Proteases are a necessary component for microorganism growth and are responsible for the progression of many diseases.

Current methods of protease detection are extremely costly, not always effective, and time-consuming. The research team’s nanosensor test has resulted in sensitive, fast, and cost effective protease detection in milk and urine.

The gold-nanoparticle based nanosensor indicates when proteases are present through a visible color-change reaction. Gold nanoparticles are well known for their capability in speeding up the oxidization of a chemical called tetramethylbenzidine (TMB), visible through a vivid blue-color formation.

"Not only is the test cheap to produce, but it can be used anywhere and is not reliant on laboratory conditions,” Dr. Claire McVey, Queen's researcher and co-author on the study published in Nano Research, said in a release. “Eliminating the need to carry out tests in a laboratory setting is life-changing. As well as being cost-effective, it means faster diagnosis."

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