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An In-situ Diagnostic System for Infections through Nano-bio-ICT Convergence

Faster diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases threatening the community

“Influenza, tuberculosis, superbacteria, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and many other infectious diseases pose grave threats to industry, the environment, and most importantly, global public health. In order to prevent the spread of such infectious diseases, there is a need for a fast and accurate pathogen detection system that can be used widely by an easier diagnostic procedure. A technology capable of identifying all potential pathogens at once is also urgently needed for diagnosing infections with unidentified causes. From this perspective, ‘An in-situ diagnostic system for infections through nano-bio-ICT convergence’ is expected to greatly contribute to the community by providing a fast and accurate diagnostic system for infectious diseases.”

Ultra-fast, micro-scale, nanodiagnostic sensor platform developed as a next-generation infection diagnostic system
While the conventional molecular diagnostic instruments for detecting pathogens show fairly good performance, they are restrictedly used in centralized cores of large, general hospitals or research institutes due to the high cost of the instrument and skill set required for the procedures. Because of these constraints, primary healthcare units such as local clinics or public healthcare centers cannot afford the use of the molecular diagnostic instruments. Meanwhile, point-of-care diagnostic kits available in the market that allows self-diagnosis at home settings are relatively affordable, but lacks the accuracy.

‘An in-situ diagnostic system for infections through nano-bio-ICT convergence’, conducted by Professor Chung, Hyun Jung’s team at KINC and 12 other labs, is one of KI’s integrated research projects and is expected to find a solution to this problem. This system is an integrated platform where ultra-high speed micro-scale amplification, highly sensitive plasmonic nanosensing, and imaging-based target analysis are all combined, aiming at developing a next-generation diagnostic system that can be widely used in the society. This study is meaningful in that it established a platform, through the convergence of nano-bio-ICT technologies, that can efficiently detect target substances indicative of the infection, for which the key technologies have been developed and well established.

In general, it is important to label and detect the target substances from the pathogen after pre-conditional processing of the samples such as blood, sputum, urine, or saliva. In this study, an imaging-based approach was used for pre-analysis of the sample before processing. Target substances were then purified from the samples using a microfluidic system, and amplified at a molecular level using a photothermally induced, micro-scale, ultra-fast polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology. After the process, targets were labeled with ultra-sensitive plasmonic nanoparticles modified with biofunctional ligand substances. By doing so, target signals were detected and stored as data on the multiplexed, microscale nanosensor platform. The gist of this in-situ diagnostic system for infections by nano-bio-ICT convergence is applying different cartridges for each pathogen to the nanodiagnostic sensor platform, based on the aforementioned key technologies.

In this study, experts in biomedical science (Professor Park, Su-Hyung; Shin, Eui-Cheol; and Park, Chan-Kyu) discovered pathogens and biomarkers as targets for infectious diseases, while the researchers in nano-bio technology (Professor Jung, Hee-Tae; Nam, Yoon-Sung; Jon, Sang-Yong; and Park, Ji-Ho) studied the micro-scale ultra-fast PCR technology that could amplify small amounts of molecular target, and the ultra-sensitive labeling using the nanomaterials. Professionals in electronics and ICT (Professor Nam, Yoon-Key; Park, Yong-Keun; Choi, Yang-Kyu; Lee, Won-Hee; and Park, Je-Kyun) made a multiplexed, miniaturized, ultra-sensitive nanosensor and data analysis platform. Thanks to this nano-bio-ICT convergence platform, the diagnostic process, which takes three to four hours or sometimes even days in the past, is significantly shortened to a few minutes.

The current nano-diagnostic sensor system would allow the rapid and accurate detection of the infectious pathogens, which can be widely applied to primary healthcare clinics as well. It is also anticipated that the system will diagnose infectious diseases with unidentified causes by screening large numbers of various types of potentially infectious pathogens simultaneously. It can also be poetntially applied to other diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases, which will greatly contribute to advances in biomedical science and research overall.

Prof. Chung, Hyun Jung
2015 Annual Report

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