Nanoscale RNA sensors for diagnostics
RNA-based methods are gaining momentum in the detection of viruses, the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases and tumour profiling. In addition, RNA monitoring is integral to many experimental processes as it impacts cell signalling, gene expression and cell survival. However, analysis requires cell manipulation and RNA extraction, which may cause RNA degradation and lead to erroneous results. The EU-funded DNANanoProbes project has developed DNA nanosensors capable of detecting RNA molecules by imaging. The technology employs fluorescent nanoparticles that hybridise with target RNA molecules. Amplification of signal leads to high sensitivity, which can be exploited for the diagnostic localisation and quantification of RNA in living cells.