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Open Access Review

Developing nucleic acid-based electrical detection systems

Magdalena Gabig-Ciminska

Author Affiliations

School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology KTH, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

Laboratory of Molecular Biology (affiliated with the University of Gdansk), Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, PL-80822 Gdansk, Poland

Microbial Cell Factories 2006, 5:9  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-5-9

Published: 2 March 2006

Abstract

Development of nucleic acid-based detection systems is the main focus of many research groups and high technology companies. The enormous work done in this field is particularly due to the broad versatility and variety of these sensing devices. From optical to electrical systems, from label-dependent to label-free approaches, from single to multi-analyte and array formats, this wide range of possibilities makes the research field very diversified and competitive. New challenges and requirements for an ideal detector suitable for nucleic acid analysis include high sensitivity and high specificity protocol that can be completed in a relatively short time offering at the same time low detection limit. Moreover, systems that can be miniaturized and automated present a significant advantage over conventional technology, especially if detection is needed in the field. Electrical system technology for nucleic acid-based detection is an enabling mode for making miniaturized to micro- and nanometer scale bio-monitoring devices via the fusion of modern micro- and nanofabrication technology and molecular biotechnology. The electrical biosensors that rely on the conversion of the Watson-Crick base-pair recognition event into a useful electrical signal are advancing rapidly, and recently are receiving much attention as a valuable tool for microbial pathogen detection. Pathogens may pose a serious threat to humans, animal and plants, thus their detection and analysis is a significant element of public health. Although different conventional methods for detection of pathogenic microorganisms and their toxins exist and are currently being applied, improvements of molecular-based detection methodologies have changed these traditional detection techniques and introduced a new era of rapid, miniaturized and automated electrical chip detection technologies into pathogen identification sector. In this review some developments and current directions in nucleic acid-based electrical detection are discussed.