Biosensors aiming at detection of target analytes, such as proteins, microbes, virus, and toxins, are widely needed for various applications including detection of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents, biomedicine, environmental monitoring, and drug screening. Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), as a surface-sensitive analytical tool, can very sensitively respond to minute changes of refractive index occurring adjacent to a metal film, offering detection limits up to a few ppt (pg/mL). Through SPR, the process of protein adsorption may be monitored in real-time, and transduced into an SPR angle shift. This unique technique bypasses the time-consuming, labor-intensive labeling processes, such as radioisotope and fluorescence labeling. More importantly, the method avoids the modification of the biomarker’s characteristics and behaviors by labeling that often occurs in traditional biosensors. While many transducers, including SPR, offer high sensitivity, selectivity is determined by the bio-receptors. In traditional biosensors, the selectivity is provided by bio-receptors possessing highly specific binding affinity to capture target analytes, yet their use in biosensors are often limited by their relatively-weak binding affinity with analyte, non-specific adsorption, need for optimization conditions, low reproducibility, and difficulties integrating onto the surface of transducers. In order to circumvent the use of bio-receptors, the competitive adsorption of proteins, termed the Vroman effect, is utilized in this work. The Vroman effect was first reported by Vroman and Adams in 1969. The competitive adsorption targeted here occurs among different proteins competing to adsorb to a surface, when more than one type of protein is present. When lower-affinity proteins are adsorbed on the surface first, they can be displaced by higher-affinity proteins arriving at the surface at a later point in time. Moreover, only low-affinity proteins can be displaced by high-affinity proteins, typically possessing higher molecular weight, yet the reverse sequence does not occur. The SPR biosensor based on competitive adsorption is successfully demonstrated to detect fibrinogen and thyroglobulin (Tg) in undiluted human serum and copper ions in drinking water through the denatured albumin.
- Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) bio-sensors to detect target molecules in undiluted human serum