A new study in Nature Communications shows that biosensors using crumpled graphene are considerably better at detecting genetic markers for cancer in a patient’s blood serum. The research team’s crumpled graphene sensor represents the first electronic sensor that can detect small amounts of DNA without requiring additional processing.
Researchers laid graphene on top of a stretched-out sheet of thin plastic, which they then released the tension on, forcing the graphene to crumple. In further studying the newly scrunched-up graphene, they determined the crinkles formed electrical “hot spots” capable of capturing and detecting small DNA and RNA sequences that tumors secrete into the bloodstream.
The graphene-enhanced biosensor detected the DNA molecules at a rate that was 10,000 times more sensitive than electrical biosensors using flat graphene in the past, according to Clincalomics.
Researchers are hopeful the new sensor could be fine-tuned to detect other biological markers, including proteins and small molecules. The hope is eventually that the technology could be placed in a small, hand-held device capable of detecting the genetic markers from a drop or two of a patient’s blood.