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DNA Biosensor Finds Novel Material for Early Diagnosis of HPV-Related Cancers

Biomanufacturing, Chemicals & Materials
Emerging Technologies
Health & Medicine
September 8, 2023

In the intricate dance of materials science, there's a new partner on the floor, pirouetting with the elegance and complexity of its famed predecessor, graphene. This partner goes by the name of Molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2 for short. Its claim to fame? A curious ability to form delicate, two-dimensional nanosheets that feel akin to the pages of a microscopically thin book. If you looked closely, you'd see the chapters of these nanosheets made up of S-Mo-S layers, gracefully intertwined through the ethereal embrace of Van der Waals interactions.

Why does this matter, you might wonder? The capabilities of MoS2 stretch beyond mere aesthetics. This material has the potential to rewrite the annals of optoelectronics, the fabrication of batteries, supercapacitors, and even platforms detecting the subtle hints of biomolecules and chemicals. 

For years, carbon nanostructures have been the chosen pedestal upon which DNA stood for sensing. But  MoS2 was like an eager understudy waiting for its turn in the limelight. Its only barrier? An electrical conductivity that was less than perfect. But all stories of discovery contain their unsung heroes. Enter Associate Professor Eunah Kang and Mr. Youngjun Kim from the esteemed halls of Chung-Ang University, Korea. They had an idea—a combination of the resilient  MoS2 with something known as a graphitic nano-onion, which gave birth to an advanced sensor capable of detecting threats like the human papillomavirus, a precursor to cervical cancer.

"Imagine nano-onions, not as the tear-inducing bulbs from your kitchen, but structures, rich with graphite, born from the heart of nanodiamonds, transformed either by intense heat or powerful laser beams," articulates Dr. Kang. Their revolutionary work danced its way into the Journal of Nanobiotechnology.

The magic unfolded when these scientists crafted an electrode surface, bringing together the functional groups from both the nano-onions and the MoS2 nanosheets. What they found was mesmerizing. The combined electrode was far superior in electronic conductivity to the MoS2 nanosheet on its own. A detail Dr. Kang illuminates with keen emphasis.

But the tale doesn't end here. With an eye for precision, the team further tested their invention, using a redox indicator to measure the sensitivity of this new device toward detecting specific strains of HPV. Dr. Kang paints a vivid picture: "The results showed a decrease in the oxidation peak, a sign of the changes occurring within the DNA structures."

The final act? Their composite electrode outshined the solo  MoS2 in detecting the whispers of cancer from HPV strains. What this suggests is a promising new world where  MoS2, empowered by the presence of nano-onions, can play a pivotal role in early cancer detection.

But Dr. Kang hints that the horizon might be even broader. Pairing nano-onions or their nanodiamond cousins with various organic biomaterials could revolutionize disease detection, pave the way for targeted treatments, and refine the tools we have in medical imaging.

In a world where materials play such a profound role, it's tales like these—of discovery, collaboration, and hope—that keep the dance of science alive and vibrant.

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