Assay technologies capable of detecting low biomarker concentrations in complex biological samples are fundamental for biological research and for applications in medical diagnostics. In this paper we address the challenge to perform protein biomarker detection homogeneously in one single step, applying a minute amount of reagent directly into whole human blood plasma, avoiding any sample dilution, separation, amplification, or fluid manipulation steps. We describe a one-step homogeneous assay technology based on antibody-coated magnetic nanoparticles that are spiked in very small amount directly into blood plasma. Pulsed magnetic fields and a double-linker molecular architecture are used to generate high biomarker-induced binding and low nonspecific binding between the nanoparticles. We demonstrate dose–response curves for prostate specific antigen (PSA) measured in undiluted human blood plasma with a detection limit of 400–500 femtomol/L, in a total assay time of 14 min and an optically probed volume of only 1 nL. We explain the dose–response curves with a model based on discrete binding of biomarker molecules onto the nanoparticles, which allows us to extract reaction parameters for the binding of biomarker molecules onto the nanoparticles and for the biomarker-induced binding between nanoparticles. The demonstrated analytical performance and understanding of the nanoparticle assay technology render it of interest for a wide range of applications in quantitative biology and medical diagnostics.
Ranzoni, A., Sabatté, G. S., IJzendoorn, van, L. J., & Prins, M. W. J. (2012). One-step homogeneous magnetic nanoparticle immunoassay for biomarker detection directly in blood plasma. ACS Nano, 6(4), 3134-3141. https://doi.org/10.1021/nn204913f