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Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed with a Single Drop of Bodily Fluid

2020-09-28 Academic

Professor Kyo Seon Hwang at the College of Medicine and his team developed an ultrasensitive nano-biosensor that can detect pivotal Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers up to a femtomolar level (10-15g) by using a reduced graphene oxide field-effect transistor (gFET)

Professor Kyo Seon Hwang at the College of Medicine and his team developed an ultrasensitive nano-biosensor that can detect pivotal Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers up to a femtomolar level (10-15g) by using a reduced graphene oxide field-effect transistor (gFET)

Their findings were published online on August 15 in Biosensors & Bioelectronics (IF=10.257, JCR top 0.581%), a premier academic journal on biosensors, under the title of “Multiplexed femtomolar detection of Alzheimer's disease biomarkers in biofluids using a reduced graphene oxide field-effect transistor.” The research was in collaboration with Professor Daesung Yoon of the School of Biomedical Engineering, Korea University.

An answer to costly AD diagnostic tests that heavily rely on subjective judgment
AD is the most common neurodegenerative disorder that accounts for roughly 70 percent of all dementia. The major pathological hallmarks of AD are abnormally aggregated amyloid-β (Aβ) and hyper-phosphorylated tau protein (t-Tau) that are triggered by neurodegeneration and hereditary risk factors. Existing AD diagnostic tools such as neuropsychological inquiries, positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are both expensive and inevitably entail subjective interpretation.

The new diagnostic guideline for AD by the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has adopted the detection of Aβ and tau protein in body fluids as critical determinants. Thus, an urgent need has emerged for a high-precision biosensor capable of detecting biomarkers in the amount of few picograms (10-12g) from a sample of bodily fluid. Field-effect transistors based on graphene are at the center of research effort due to their ultrasensitive electrical properties and binding affinity with various antibodies.

Professor Hwang’s team noticed that the two core AD biomarkers Aβ and t-Tau have different surface charges in physiological conditions based on the isoelectric point (at pH 7.4) and developed a gFET biosensor platform that can distinguish output signals of the two biomarkers.

“Based on the findings, we are conducting clinical research with Professor Jin San Lee of the College of Medicine to analyze Aβ and t-Tau concentrations in blood and saliva samples of both patients and normal subjects for AD risk prediction. Our gFET biosensor is a platform that can be applied to various diagnostic tests as well,” said Professor Hwang. “The platform is not only useful for early detection of AD biomarkers but also for other disease-specific biomarkers (protein, nucleic acid) by analyzing their surface charges. I am convinced that it will bring a huge advancement in clinical research,” he added.

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