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Dual-reporter SERS-based biomolecular assay with reduced false-positive signals.


We present a sensitive and quantitative protein detection assay that can efficiently distinguish between specific and nonspecific target binding. Our technique combines dual affinity reagents with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and chemometric analysis. We link one Raman reporter-tagged affinity reagent to gold nanoparticles and another to a gold film, such that protein-binding events create a "hot spot" with strong SERS spectra from both Raman reporter molecules. Any signal generated in this context is indicative of recognition by both affinity labels, whereas signals generated by nonspecific binding lack one or the other label, enabling us to efficiently distinguish true from false positives. We show that the number of hot spots per unit area of our substrate offers a quantitative measure of analyte concentration and demonstrate that this dual-label, SERS-linked aptasensor assay can sensitively and selectively detect human α-thrombin in 1% human serum with a limit of detection of 86 pM.

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