A new generation of diagnostic tests based on gold nanoparticles and aptamers could be as simple to operate as a pregnancy test kit, according to researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, providing emergency rooms with a way to identify the cause of a poisoning of drug overdose very quickly. Yi Lu and colleagues say their new approach to diagnostics is as reliable as conventional laboratory methods. They have demonstrated proof of principle with a dip-stick for detecting cocaine in biological samples such as saliva, urine, and blood serum. It is possible to find a suitable single strand of DNA, an aptamer, for almost every target molecule, says Lu. "The broad practical application of aptamers has thus far not realized its promise in practical diagnostics because the corresponding tests could not be made sufficiently user-friendly for the average user, who has not had laboratory training."
Drug dip stick