Graphene in Biomedicine: Opportunities and Challenges

Liangzhu Feng; Zhuang Liu


Nanomedicine. 2011;6(2):317-324. 

In This Article

Graphene for Biosensing

In the past 2 years, there have been a significant number of publications reporting graphene-based biosensors,[4,9–14,27,35–42] mainly utilizing the unique chemical, optical, electrical and electrochemical properties of graphene. It has been found that the nucleotide bases in ssDNA bind strongly to the graphene surface by ϖ-ϖ stacking, which could be greatly weakened after DNA hybridization to form dsDNA.[17,20,27–29,37] Several different groups have utilized this phenomenon, as well as the effective fluorescence-quenching ability of graphene, to develop novel graphene-based DNA detection platforms.[13,27,35–37] Fan and co-workers reported a GO-based multicolor DNA probe for rapid, sensitive and selective detection of DNA targets in solutions.[35] Others found that graphene could deliver oligonucleotides, such as molecular beacons and aptamers, into living cells for in situ probing of biomolecules.[13,36]

Many other graphene-based biosensing systems using different mechanisms have also been studied by many groups.[4,38,41,43,44] In 2008, Mohanty et al. for the first time successfully fabricated graphene electronic devices for detection of bacterium, DNA and proteins.[4] Since then, biosensing using graphene electronic devices has been actively pursued.[14,39,43–45] Owing to its ultra-high surface area and excellent electron mobility, graphene or graphene-based composite materials were used to modify electrodes in the eletrochemical sensing of various biomolecules, including glucose, DNA and proteins, with high sensitivities.[40,46–50] Recently, a number of groups have also used graphene as a novel matrix for mass spectrometry assay of biological molecules.[12,19,51] Furthermore, graphene could also be combined with other nanomaterials for various novel biosensing applications.[15,52–55]

Despite the large amount of recent publications on graphene-based biosensors, the advantages of those novel biomolecular detection platforms over conventional bioassay tools remain to be clarified. Although high detection sensitivities have been achieved by many graphene-based biosensors, their reliability and reproducibility may need careful examinations. Similar to many other nano-biosensor systems, the batch-to-batch variations in those graphene biosensors need more attention and may be minimized by further work.


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