Nanoparticle detection technology for protein biomarkers

Wendy Emanuel writes "Nanosphere Announces Protein BioMarker Detection Capabilities" Broad impact on the fields of molecular diagnostics, genomics and proteomics is expected.

Wendy Emanuel writes:

Northbrook, Ill. – October 8, 2003 – Through a licensing agreement with Northwestern University, Nanosphere Inc., a nanotechnology-based life sciences company, has acquired breakthrough nanoparticle detection technology for protein biomarkers. This technology, when combined with Nanosphere's proprietary nanoparticle-based detection systems for DNA, positions the company to broadly impact the fields of molecular diagnostics, genomics and proteomics.

Nanosphere's new technology, which was invented by Nanosphere co-founder and Northwestern University Professor Chad Mirkin, exhibits one million times more sensitivity than standard methods in the detection of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a widely recognized protein linked to prostate cancer. It can be extended to other important markers for diseases such as HIV, Alzheimer's disease, and many forms of cancer. Research findings are published in the September 26, 2003, issue of Science.

"This advancement further demonstrates the power of Nanosphere's molecular testing systems, which provide orders-of-magnitude improved sensitivity and specificity over current detection methods," said Vijaya Vasista, Nanosphere's Chief Operating Officer. "Nanosphere's platform addresses current needs in DNA and RNA detection, and as genomics evolves into proteomics, Nanosphere's detection platform will seamlessly migrate to protein biomarkers as well."

Nanosphere launched VerigeneTM ID, its first molecular detection system, in June 2003 for diagnostic and nanoparticle research environments, and in September 2003 the company moved its headquarters to an expanded 40,000-sq. ft. space. Nanosphere has raised approximately $24 million since its incorporation in 2000.

Nanosphere, a privately held life sciences company with headquarters in Northbrook, Ill., is developing a universal molecular testing platform that sets a new standard and improves patient care and enhances public safety. Nanosphere's platform, that has 1,000 times greater sensitivity and 10,000 times greater specificity than current molecular systems, addresses the persistent need for systems that can quickly and easily detect a wide range of life-threatening diseases. For more information, visit the company's web site at

The research publication referenced in the above press release:
Nanoparticle-Based Bio-Bar Codes for the Ultrasensitive Detection of Proteins
Jwa-Min Nam, C. Shad Thaxton, and Chad A. Mirkin
Science, Sep 26 2003, 301: 1884-1886.


An ultrasensitive method for detecting protein analytes has been developed. The system relies on magnetic microparticle probes with antibodies that specifically bind a target of interest [prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in this case] and nanoparticle probes that are encoded with DNA that is unique to the protein target of interest and antibodies that can sandwich the target captured by the microparticle probes. Magnetic separation of the complexed probes and target followed by dehybridization of the oligonucleotides on the nanoparticle probe surface allows the determination of the presence of the target protein by identifying the oligonucleotide sequence released from the nanoparticle probe. Because the nanoparticle probe carries with it a large number of oligonucleotides per protein binding event, there is substantial amplification and PSA can be detected at 30 attomolar concentration. Alternatively, a polymerase chain reaction on the oligonucleotide bar codes can boost the sensitivity to 3 attomolar. Comparable clinically accepted conventional assays for detecting the same target have sensitivity limits of 3 picomdar, six orders of magnitude less sensitive than what is observed with this method.

Leave a comment

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop