A multichannel nanosensor for instantaneous readout of cancer drug mechanisms

Nature Nanotechnology 10, 65 (2015).
doi:10.1038/nnano.2014.285

Authors: Subinoy Rana, Ngoc D. B. Le, Rubul Mout, Krishnendu Saha, Gulen Yesilbag Tonga, Robert E. S. Bain, Oscar R. Miranda, Caren M. Rotello & Vincent M. Rotello

Screening methods that use traditional genomic, transcriptional, proteomic and metabonomic signatures to characterize drug mechanisms are known. However, they are time consuming and require specialized equipment. Here, we present a high-throughput multichannel sensor platform that can profile the mechanisms of various chemotherapeutic drugs in minutes. The sensor consists of a gold nanoparticle complexed with three different fluorescent proteins that can sense drug-induced physicochemical changes on cell surfaces. In the presence of cells, fluorescent proteins are rapidly displaced from the gold nanoparticle surface and fluorescence is restored. Fluorescence ‘turn on’ of the fluorescent proteins depends on the drug-induced cell surface changes, generating patterns that identify specific mechanisms of cell death induced by drugs. The nanosensor is generalizable to different cell types and does not require processing steps before analysis, offering an effective way to expedite research in drug discovery, toxicology and cell-based sensing.