Study: Graphene may be used to detect MS

December 12, 2018
Graphene may one day be used to test for multiple sclerosis according to new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago. When cerebrospinal fluid from patients with multiple sclerosis was added to graphene, it produced a distinct change in the vibrational characteristics of the graphene compared to a patient without a neurodegenerative disease. These distinct changes accurately predicted what kind of patient the fluid came from.

Graphene is a single-atom-thick material made up of carbon. Each carbon atom is bound to its neighboring carbon atoms by chemical bonds. The elasticity of these bonds produces resonant vibrations, also known as phonons, which can be very accurately measured. When a molecule interacts with graphene, it changes these resonant vibrations in a very specific and quantifiable way.

Researchers used graphene to identify whether the cerebrospinal fluid was from a patient with multiple sclerosis or from someone without neurodegenerative disease. Cerebrospinal fluid was obtained from the Human Brain and Spinal Fluid Resource Center, which banks fluid and tissue from deceased individuals. The researchers believe the graphene is picking up on the unique biosignatures — combinations of proteins, and other biomolecules — present in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with different diseases.

The study’s authors said the electronic properties of graphene have been extensively studied, but only recently have they begun to examine its phononic properties as a way to detect diseases. They said it turns out that graphene is an extremely versatile and accurate detector of biosignatures of diseases found both in cerebrospinal fluids and whole cells.

The findings were published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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