Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Real-time tracking of fluorescent magnetic spore–based microrobots for remote detection of C. diff toxins

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Science Advances  11 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau9650
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9650

Abstract

A rapid, direct, and low-cost method for detecting bacterial toxins associated with common gastrointestinal diseases remains a great challenge despite numerous studies and clinical assays. Motion-based detection through tracking the emerging micro- and nanorobots has shown great potential in chemo- and biosensing due to accelerated “chemistry on the move”. Here, we described the use of fluorescent magnetic spore–based microrobots (FMSMs) as a highly efficient mobile sensing platform for the detection of toxins secreted by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that were present in patients’ stool. These microrobots were synthesized rapidly and inexpensively by the direct deposition of magnetic nanoparticles and the subsequent encapsulation of sensing probes on the porous natural spores. Because of the cooperation effect of natural spore, magnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles, and functionalized carbon nanodots, selective fluorescence detection of the prepared FMSMs is demonstrated in C. diff bacterial supernatant and even in actual clinical stool samples from infectious patients within tens of minutes, suggesting rapid response and good selectivity and sensitivity of FMSMs toward C. diff toxins.

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