Dynamic Nanobiosensor Platform for Viral and Tumor Nucleic Acid Detection

A rapid, nucleic acid-based, point-of-care diagnostic.

The Need

The current gold-standard molecular diagnostic assay, quantitative reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR, although accurate, is labor intensive (5-step workflow) and time consuming. Due to centralized laboratory testing, the time to results for RT-PCR can vary from 1 day up to 2 weeks, depending on the site of sample collection. Thus, a major unmet need for low resource areas is a rapid, accurate, sensitive, and affordable nucleic acid-based diagnostic test.


The Nanoengineering and Biodesign Lab, led by Dr. Carlos Castro in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University, focuses on developing novel tools and approaches to study biological systems at multiple lengthscales ranging from the single molecule level up to millimeter scale complex biological systems. A major focus of the lab is the development of nanoscale devices using programmed self-assembly of DNA. In general, these devices are aimed to probe the mechanical properties and biophysical and biochemical interactions of molecular and cellular systems. Dr. Castro’s laboratory has pioneered the use of engineering mechanics and design approaches for the development of DNA nanomachines with complex motion, dynamic behavior, and programmed stimulus response.

The Technology

Dr. Carlos Castro and his research team are developing a molecular nucleic acid-based diagnostic test (3-step workflow) that generates results in less than 1 hour using a DNA-based dynamic nanobiosensor. The nanodevice is designed to provide robust and accurate results, comparable to the RT-PCR assay, but without the need to amplify the target nucleic acid sequence. The sensor is highly stable at room temperature and can be readily manufactured at a commercial scale. Importantly, the nanobiosensor is not limited to a single testing indication. The target specificity of the nanobiosensor is determined by interchangeable nucleic acid sequences, which may be applied to a wide range of both RNA and DNA based viral targets, in addition to circulating tumor DNA.


  • Point-of-care
  • Rapid Diagnostic
  • Nucleic acid-based test
  • Scalable and low-cost manufacturing (estimated)
  • Infectious diseases
  • Co-infection screening
  • Circulating tumor DNA screening

Intellectual Property

  • Provisional patent application filed

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