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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Research Project: Nanoparticle Characterization and Application to Diagnostic Devices

Nanotechnology offers great potential in the development of a vast array of new products to advance public health and while in vivo nanoparticle applications are currently hampered by cytotoxicity concerns, an area the laboratory is working on in collaboration with our coworkers within the Division of Biology, the market for in vitro tests using nanoparticles is rapidly expanding as evident from the published literature and the resulting new technologies and devices are likely to come to fruition and therefore seek the FDA’s approval much sooner than their in vivo based counterparts.  The use of nanoparticles, in particular Quantum dots, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and gold nanoparticles, in rapid diagnostic/screening applications is currently being evaluated.  For example, one of the research project within “nanoparticle characterization and application to diagnostic devices” aims to design rapid, inexpensive, quantitative, robust and field deployable high-throughput methods for detecting contamination of heparin samples.  As demonstrated by recent events, contamination of the heparin supply can result in severe adverse events in exposed patients and current FDA screening techniques, while robust and sensitive, are expensive, require dedicated laboratories and trained personal, are highly technical and not suitable for rapid screening of heparin samples in the field.  This research project takes advantage of the many unique properties of Quantum Dot nanoparticles to design a fluorescence-based biosensing platform as a rapid screening tool to monitor heparin for contamination.  Such screening tools could be readily applied to a number of FDA regulated products or product components, particularly those regularly imported, for a range of potential contaminants.


illustrate the dual detection of Chicken IgG and Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) in the single well of a 96-well microtiter plate using sandwich immunoassays.


The use of quantum dot fluorophores for multiplex detection in a single microtiter well.  Quantum dots have relatively narrow fluorescent emission profiles, compared to standard organic fluorophores, which makes them idea for multiplexing immunoassays.