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Aurora magazine

A new biosensor for Down syndrome is under development

About 1 new born in 700 suffers from Down syndrome, which makes it the most common inborn defect. Common prenatal diagnosis tests help to identify it, but they pose different risks to the fetus. That's why non-invasive prenatal screening tests were born, safe for women and for the fetus.

Dr. Zhiyong Zhang's team is looking for a way to make this tool even more powerful. Researchers have identified a biosensor that can be used to diagnose Down's syndrome. For the moment, research is still ongoing, but one day it could lead to new prenatal tests. According to the forecasts of Dr. Zhang, the test will be fast and cheap, for everyone. It will have the accuracy of genetic sequencing without the timing, or at least it hopes.

Scientists used biosensor chips with a molybdenum sulfide base, surmounted by gold nanoparticles. On the nanoparticles they blocked samples of DNA sequences, able to recognize a specific sequence of chromosome 21. At this point they placed fragments of chromosome 21 on the sensors, so that they could identify any anomalies. The first results were encouraging: the biosensors also worked with low DNA concentrations in the samples.

According to the researchers, the method would also be effective for other chromosomal abnormalities. The same method would in fact also be used on chromosome 13, to diagnose Patau's syndrome.