NanoMonitor: A miniature electronic biosensor for glycan biomarker detection

Vinay J. Nagaraj, Srivatsa Aithal, Seron Eaton, Manish Bothara, Peter Wiktor, Shalini Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Aim: The goal of our research is to develop an ultrasensitive diagnostic platform called 'NanoMonitor to enable rapid label-free analysis of a highly promising class of biomarkers called glycans (oligosaccharide chains attached to proteins) with high sensitivity and selectivity. The glycosylation of fetuin - a serum protein - and extracts from a human pancreatic cancer line was analyzed to demonstrate the capabilities of the NanoMonitor. Material & methods: The NanoMonitor device consists of a silicon chip with an array of gold electrodes forming multiple sensor sites and works on the principle of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Each sensor site is overlaid with a nanoporous alumina membrane that forms a high density of nanowells on top of each electrode. Lectins (proteins that bind to and recognize specific glycan structures) are conjugated to the surface of the electrode. When specific glycans from a test sample bind to lectins at the base of each nanowell, a perturbation of electrical double-layer occurs, which results in a change in the impedance. Using the lectins Sambucs nigra agglutinin (SNA) and Maackia amurensis agglutinin (MAA), subtle variations to the glycan chains of fetuin were investigated. Protein extracts from BXPC-3, a cultured human pancreatic cancer cell line were also analyzed for binding to SNA and MAA lectins. The performance of the NanoMonitor was compared to a conventional laboratory technique: lectin-based enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results & discussion: The NanoMonitor was used to identify glycoform variants of fetuin and global differences in glycosylation of protein extracts from cultured human pancreatic cancerous versus normal cells. While results from NanoMonitor correlate very well with results from lectin-based ELISA, the NanoMonitor is rapid, completely label free, requires just 10 μl of sample, is approximately five orders of magnitude more sensitive and highly selective over a broad dynamic range of glycoprotein concentrations. Conclusion: Based on its performance metrics, the NanoMonitor has excellent potential for development as a point-of-care handheld electronic biosensor device for routine detection of glycan biomarkers from clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-378
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Cancer glycoprofiling
  • Glycosensor
  • Label-free glycosylation analysis
  • Lectin
  • Lectrochemical impedance spectroscopy glycoprotein analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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