The role of conjugated polymer nanoparticles in DNA sensing

by | Mar 23, 2015

In the newest issue of Advanced Science, researchers from Nanjing expose the advantages of using conjugated polymer nanoparticles for DNA sensing.

The most recent issue of Advanced Science features recent developments in the research of DNA sensing techniques by a team of scientists from Nanjing.

DNA detection is a promising tool for a wide range of medical applications. The importance of finding ways to detect DNA lies on its many possible uses: diagnostics, gene therapy, the analysis of mutations, genomics, and so on. As such, detection techniques must be simple enough to use and its results reliable.

Current methods of DNA detection include the use conjugated polymer electrolytes, which offer optical amplification through the polymers and their electrostatic behaviour. Common problems with this technique are low efficiency, sensitivity and selectivity. Nevertheless, the fluorescent energy transfer (FRET) from such electrolytes to intercalating dyes is of great interest as it is an inexpensive and easy to realise technique.

Conjugated polymer nanoparticles, a new kind of fluorescent probes, possess other promising properties: high fluorescence brightness, fast emission rates and low toxicity. However, their potential hasn’t been thoroughly explored yet.

In this context, Wei Huang, Lianhui Wang and co-workers developed hybrid biological conjugated polymer nanoparticles that can achieve selective and label-free detection of DNA in biological media.

Illustration of conjugated polymer nanoparticles for label-free DNA sensing.

Illustration of conjugated polymer nanoparticles for label-free DNA sensing. PG refers to the dye PicoGreen.

In their study, they present a simple and inexpensive platform in which the sensor was able to detect DNA in scales below what had been previously reported. The nanoparticles also proved to successfully endure the conditions of the environment in which they need to be used.

The authors expect that this method can be further generalised to be used in the detection of other chemical and biological materials.

Advanced Science is a new journal from the team behind Advanced MaterialsAdvanced Functional Materials, and Small. The journal is fully Open Access and is free to read now at