An Enzyme-Free Signal Amplification Technique for Ultrasensitive Colorimetric Assay of Disease Biomarkers

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© 2017 American Chemical Society. Enzyme-based colorimetric assays have been widely used in research laboratories and clinical diagnosis for decades. Nevertheless, as constrained by the performance of enzymes, their detection sensitivity has not been substantially improved in recent years, which inhibits many critical applications such as early detection of cancers. In this work, we demonstrate an enzyme-free signal amplification technique, based on gold vesicles encapsulated with Pd-Ir nanoparticles as peroxidase mimics, for colorimetric assay of disease biomarkers with significantly enhanced sensitivity. This technique overcomes the intrinsic limitations of enzymes, thanks to the superior catalytic efficiency of peroxidase mimics and the efficient loading and release of these mimics. Using human prostate surface antigen as a model biomarker, we demonstrated that the enzyme-free assay could reach a limit of detection at the femtogram/mL level, which is over 103-fold lower than that of conventional enzyme-based assay when the same antibodies and similar procedure were used.

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ACS Nano