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Next Gen Technology Enables Robust, Straightforward and Flexible Molecular Diagnostics in Any Environment

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 24 Mar 2023
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Image: The novel technology uses fringe-field capacitive sensing to quantify molecular targets (Photo courtesy of AltraTech)
Image: The novel technology uses fringe-field capacitive sensing to quantify molecular targets (Photo courtesy of AltraTech)

The implementation of point-of-care systems is often hindered by challenges related to sample preparation, reagent storage, and user proficiency. Now, a next-generation ‘Anywhere, anytime, by anyone’ molecular detection technology aims to shift the detection and monitoring of viral infections to point-of-care and beyond clinical settings. The technology, which allows for rapid and precise measurement and quantification of viral RNA, DNA, antigens, or antibodies, can be used by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

AltraTech Limited’s (Cork, Ireland) innovative technology integrates nanotechnology, semiconductor technology, and novel PNA chemistry to create a distinct and robust assay. This assay, called Molecular Detection by Proxy, is a bead-based technology that employs ultra-sensitive capacitance detection. The assay involves three critical stages. The first stage uses exclusive bioorthogonal PNAs to overcome the challenge of extracting genetic material from a biological sample without any sample preparation. These synthetic nucleic acids are incredibly specific and can be directly introduced into the sample.

The target is then captured onto a magnetic bead, following which the captured molecules are magnetically removed from the sample and tethered onto coded nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are representative of the biological target, with each particle equivalent to a single target. Finally, the particles are released over a highly sensitive, bioorthogonal CMOS biosensor chip, resulting in a change of capacitance. The higher the number of particles, the greater the measured capacitance, leading to a linear correlation with the initial target present in the sample.

As a result, the assay can be multiplexed with ease and used to measure other targets, including antibodies or antigens, within the same test. Moreover, as soon as a new genome is accessible, the company’s core bioorthogonal PNA chemistry can be promptly programmed with the specific targeting sequences, enabling a new test to be deployed within days. The assay will be integrated into a solid-state device that can be miniaturized, commercialized, and mass-produced.

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