Tiny nano-sized pores detect diseases at an earlier stage

Pers / media: Expert CommentPopular


In collaboration with the University of Groningen, Professor Jørgen Kjems and his research group at Aarhus University have made a remarkable breakthrough in the development of tiny, nano-sized pores that, among other things, may contribute to better ways of detecting diseases at an earlier stage.

Her work was recently published in the scientific journal ACS Nano, demonstrates a new innovative method for finding specific proteins in complex biological fluids such as blood without the need to chemically label the proteins. The research is an important milestone in nanopore technology and could revolutionize medical diagnostics.

Nanopores are tiny channels formed in materials that can be used as sensors. The researchers, led by Jørgen Kjems and Giovanni Maglia (University of Groningen), have gone a step further by developing a special type of nanopore called ClyA, to which scanner molecules called nanobodies are attached.

These antibody-derived nanobodies are capable of recognizing various proteins with amazing accuracy. In this study, researchers attached nanobodies to ClyA using a DNA adapter. By using a range of nanobodies, they were able to create many different nanopore sensors that could detect a variety of proteins of different sizes.


The research team created nanopores with special nanobodies attached that can recognize the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and a protein marker for breast cancer called urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). , or.

By measuring changes in electrical currents caused by the presence of these proteins, researchers can find and identify individual proteins and even determine their concentrations. What makes this breakthrough even more remarkable is the fact that the nanopores remained highly precise and sensitive even when testing complex samples like blood.

Although the nanopores are invisible to the naked eye, the importance of this research is palpable. Existing technologies have already made it possible to integrate nanopores into a wearable device that can exploit nanopores’ ability to probe liquids for specific molecules. Therefore, we can envision a future where patients can quickly and accurately identify diseases such as cancer or infectious diseases with a simple blood test. This could lead to earlier interventions, better patient outcomes and overall improved healthcare.

Although further studies and validations are needed before this technology becomes widely available, the collaboration between these two universities brings us one step closer to that reality. The breakthrough illustrates the power of scientific collaboration and innovation in transforming healthcare.


Magazine reference:

Zhang., et al. (2023) Specific detection of proteins by a nanobody-functionalized nanopore sensor. ACS Nano. doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.2c12733.