A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes.
The research, led by Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia and Purdue University, builds on the team’s earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers, which introduced the dimension of time in addition to color and brightness in optical detection technology.
The technology could enable screens that identify thousands of different target molecules simultaneously, said J. Paul Robinson, the Professor of Cytomics in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, who was involved in the research.
“This is the second part of the puzzle,” said Robinson, who led the biological testing of the technology. “Now we’ve successfully measured the lifetimes of these tags on the fly at thousands of samples per second. The next step is to perform such high-throughput testing within a liquid, like water, blood or urine. That will open the door to widespread biological use and clinical applications, as well as the detection of pathogens in food or water.”
Researchers working to advance imaging useful to medicine and security are capitalizing on the same phenomenon behind the lingering “ghost” image that appeared on old television screens.
A team of researchers from Purdue University and Macquarie University in Sydney has created a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers, adding a new dimension of time to color and brightness in optical detection technology.
Detection based on the lifetime of the light as well as its specific color, or wavelength, exponentially boosts the number of different combinations that can be created and used as unique signatures, or tags, for biomedical screens. Screens based on this new technology could identify thousands of different target molecules simultaneously, far surpassing the current limits of such screens to roughly 20 different molecules.
“These nanocrystals can form combination codes, like barcodes, to form a vast library of distinguishable molecular probes, which can be used for complex diagnostics,” said Dayong Jin, the professor of photonics at Macquarie who led the research. “They could be used for screening tests that can more quickly and accurately identify the cause of infection, residue cancers at an early stage and locate the specific molecular targets for targeted drug therapies.”
In addition, light emitted by the new nanocrystals far outlasts that which occurs naturally in biological systems, called autofluorescence. That difference in timing distinctly separates the signal from background noise, said J. Paul Robinson, the professor of cytomics in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering who helped lead the study over the last four years.
A leading international researcher at Purdue University working to create a low-cost tool for diagnosing AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and other Third World countries is the featured speaker at the next Science on Tap on Thursday (Sept. 22) in downtown Lafayette.
J. Paul Robinson, a professor in Purdue’s schools of biomedical engineering and veterinary medicine, will speak at 6 p.m. in the upstairs of the Lafayette Brewing Company, 622 Main St., Lafayette. His presentation, “Adventure Capital: Playing Games with Third World Lives,” is free and open to the public to those ages 21 or older.
“With a desperate need to solve serious problems in resource-limited countries, scientists have started hundreds of biotech startups using the Third World need as their primary publicity to raise capital,” said Robinson, who leads a flow cytometry research laboratory at Discovery Park’s Bindley Bioscience Center.
Purdue University researchers have received a $1.35 million grant from the National Cancer Institute for developing a next-generation biological tool designed to more accurately detect early stages of cervical cancer.
A team led by Purdue professors J. Paul Robinson and Vincent Jo Davisson, whose laboratories are based at Discovery Park’s Bindley Bioscience Center, will use the three-year grant to advance the effectiveness of the Pap smear, the common medical test that has been successful in reducing the mortality rate of cervical cancer since it was introduced in the 1940s.
“The Pap smear remains an effective, widely used method for early detection of precancer and cervical cancer. But it can have a false negative rate in the range of more than 30 percent for clinically significant cervical lesions,” said Robinson, a Purdue professor of biomedical engineering and veterinary medicine. “And when you have a false negative for whatever reason, that time lost can be deleterious for the patient. Our goal is to reduce that negative figure, helping thousands of women get a more precise initial diagnosis as to whether they do or do not have cervical cancer.”
Purdue University researchers have developed a technology that has the potential to more quickly identify food-borne pathogens, aiding U.S. homeland security officials in responding to a bioterrorist attack or other emergencies.
The research team, which is based at Discovery Park’s Bindley Bioscience Center, has received a $1.3 million seed grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test the technology.
“Rapid identification of pathogenic organisms is difficult to achieve in clinical environments, leading to a delay in response and treatment,” said project leader J. Paul Robinson, professor of biomedical engineering and veterinary medicine. “This technology creates a national identification system capable of correlating similar organisms identified at hospitals across the nation.”