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HomeCategoriesBiotechGold Nanoparticles: German Team Hit Another Holy Grail for Implantable Sensors

Gold Nanoparticles: German Team Hit Another Holy Grail for Implantable Sensors

First, the country gave the world the first coronavirus vaccine, now it’s a gold implantable sensor that is capable of monitoring changes in the body. The wind of revolution in biotech research seems to be blowing in Germany. The country under the European Union regulations have been said to be lagging behind in biotechnological research. But current breakthroughs in revolutionizing medical treatments in vaccines and devices may change the narrative going forward. In a result published by Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, a group of researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) Mainz, Germany detailed their successful application of gold nanoparticles in monitoring continuing changes in the body of the host. The research was carried out on a hairless rat with the nanoparticle embedded in a porous hydrogel and inserted under the skin of the rat. 

Doses of kanamycin antibiotic were injected into the body of the rat to test for the reaction of the gold nanosensors. The receptors on the surface of the gold nanosensor aided in its ability to detect various doses of kanamycin by displaying color changes according to the concentration of the antibiotics and reporting changes as a result. 

The success of the research is a mega breakthrough in the medical sector as it promises to redefine the healthcare sector due to its wide application. The ability of medical experts to closely monitor changes in the body of patients through a sensor that does not pose any health treat on the body of the wearer is a great milestone. 

But this is not the first time scientific researchers are embarking on implantable nano particles.  For many years, scientists have been searching for a safe and reliable sensor that can be used to keep track of medical changes and transmit information about disease progression and drug concentration in the body of patients but with little success. The aim was to shift the medical treatment approach from a reactionary one to a more proactive approach.

In medicine, it is of great importance that experts can closely monitor disease progression so as to carry out life saving medical procedures before the patient’s health degenerates to a state of irreversibility. Late diagnosis of diseases and difficulty in keeping close observation of how the body reacts to treatments have plagued medicine for far too long.

Previously available nanosensors when implanted in patients could last for days and sometimes weeks and they would need to be changed. One of the problems they had was being recognised as a foreign object and then subsequently being rejected. Again previous nanosensors had color display problems.The sensors could not maintain color display stability and faded too soon.

Gold makes the difference

“We are used to colored objects bleaching over time. Gold nanoparticles, however, do not bleach but keep their color permanently. As they can be easily coated with various different receptors, they are an ideal platform for implantable sensors,” writes Dr. Katharina Kaefer, first author of the study.

When considering sensors capable of detecting medical diseases early, gold nanosensors are the most favored. The special properties of gold particles distinguish it for this purpose. Gold nanosensors can detect biomarkers even if they are in very low concentration. As a peculiar feature, when implanted in the body, gold nanoparticles are able to undergo intense color changes when in contact with certain substances.

The novel sensors developed by JGU researchers are based on color-stable gold nanoparticles which can be modified with receptors for specific molecules. Gold nanoparticles act as antennas for light. According to the report, “they strongly absorb and scatter it and, by appearing colorful. They react to alterations in their surrounding by changing color. Sönnichsen’s team has exploited this concept for implanted medical sensing.”

To prevent the nanosensors from shifting in the desired positions they are embedded in, or being degraded by immune cells, they are embedded in a porous hydrogel which has a tissue-like consistency. When implanted under the skin, small blood vessels and cells grow into the pores and adapt it to the body. 

Older Research in Nanotechnology Using Gold Particles

Before now, researchers already invented gold nanoparticles for medical use. In 2012, researchers at the London Center for Nanotechnology at Imperial College London used gold particles and plasmonics to create a biosensor that can detect tiny amounts of biomarkers or diseases. This gold nanosensor requires the DNA strands to be attached to the particles allowing the sensors to clump together when it comes in contact with a target gene, turning the sample blue.

Its usage was further researched at the University of Toronto Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. In the research led by Professor Warren Chan, a researcher at the institute, gold nanosensors were used to create sensitive tools that can detect diseases. Unlike the sensors created at Imperial College London, this one immerses the gold nanoparticles in a DNA-based enzyme solution known as DNA-zyme. DNA-zyme and gold sensor when in contact with a disease gene reacts by cutting the DNA from the gold nanoparticles displaying red coloration.

The novelty of the gold nanosensors developed by JGU researchers, which distinguishes it, is its simplicity of use. “Our sensor is like an invisible tattoo, not much bigger than a penny and thinner than one millimeter,” said Professor Carsten Sönnichsen, head of the Nanobiotechnology Group at JGU according to a report. The gold nanoparticles are infrared and not visible to the eye requiring a special device to detect their color noninvasively through the skin.

If you are interested in biotechnology, come back tomorrow for our biotech news summary. Meanwhile, take a look at:

Brain-Machine Interface, Precision Medicine, And Other Possibilities Of AI In Biotech

China’s Biologically Enhanced Soldiers Could Place Intelligence Under Military Control

Veronica Ugwu
Veronica Ugwu
Veronica Ugwu is a writer for RegTech Global, with her enthusiasm for tech and business.


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