New strips could be the ‘golden ticket’ to predicting heart attacks

15 Jan 2015

A new test strip made from nanoparticles of gold could potentially provide the best test for predicting heart attacks yet found, according to new research.

In what is certainly not meant for those with a ‘heart of gold’, the team of researchers from New York University (NYU) collaborated with Peking University (PU) in China to develop a colloidal gold test strip that could predict at least one particular type of heart attack known as cardiac troponin I (cTn-I).

According to the university’s news release on the discovery, this new test is based on the specific immune-chemical reactions between antigen and antibody on immunochromatographic test strips using microplasma-generated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs).

Compared with previous methods of testing, these new gold strips were found to attract significantly more antibodies which resulted in greater sensitivity for better detection of an imminent attack.

The leads on the project, Kurt H Becker of NYU and WeiDong Zhu of PU have been working on microplasma technology for some time now with promising results.

Microscopic view of microplasma-gold nanoparticles. Image via NYU

Also useful for tumour detection and Alzheimer’s

Aside from the findings of this new study, microplasma technology has been found to have properties in the detection of a variety of other conditions including tumour detection, cancer imaging, drug delivery, and treatment of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

However, speaking of their findings, Becker says it will be a while yet before we can expect gold nanoparticles to be used on a wide scale.

“The routine use of gold nanoparticles in therapy and disease detection in patients is still years away: longer for therapeutic applications and shorter for biosensors,” said Becker.

“The biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact that the synthesis of monodisperse, size-controlled gold nanoparticles, even using microplasmas, is still a costly, time-consuming, and labour-intensive process, which limits their use currently to small-scale clinical studies.”

Liquid gold image via Shuterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic