27 April 2016 A naked-eye colorimetric “PCR developer”
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Despite several advances in molecular biology and diagnostics, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is currently the gold standard for nucleic acids amplification and detection, due to its versatility, low-cost and universality, with estimated <10 billion reactions per year and a worldwide market of several billion dollars/year. Nevertheless, PCR still relies on the laborious, time-consuming, and multi-step gel electrophoresis-based detection, which includes gel casting, electrophoretic run, gel staining, and gel visualization. In this work, we propose a “PCR developer”, namely a universal one-step, one-tube method, based on controlled aggregation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), to detect PCR products by naked eye in few minutes, with no need for any instrumentation. We demonstrated the specificity and sensitivity of the PCR developer on different model targets, suitable for a qualitative detection in real-world diagnostics (i.e., gene rearrangements, genetically modified organisms, and pathogens). The PCR developer proved to be highly specific and ultra-sensitive, discriminating down to few copies of HIV viral DNA, diluted in an excess of interfering human genomic DNA, which is a clinically relevant viral load. Hence, it could be a valuable tool for both academic research and clinical applications.
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Paola Valentini, Paola Valentini, Pier Paolo Pompa, Pier Paolo Pompa, "A naked-eye colorimetric “PCR developer”", Proc. SPIE 9887, Biophotonics: Photonic Solutions for Better Health Care V, 98870N (27 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2228631; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2228631

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