Tutorial: design and fabrication of nanoparticle-based lateral-flow immunoassays

Claudio Parolo, Amadeo Sena-Torralba, José Francisco Bergua, Enric Calucho, Celia Fuentes-Chust, Liming Hu, Lourdes Rivas, Ruslan Álvarez-Diduk, Emily P. Nguyen, Stefano Cinti, Daniel Quesada-González & Arben Merkoçi. Nature Protocols

Lateral-flow assays (LFAs) are quick, simple and cheap assays to analyze various samples at the point of care or in the field, making them one of the most widespread biosensors currently available. They have been successfully employed for the detection of a myriad of different targets (ranging from atoms up to whole cells) in all type of samples (including water, blood, foodstuff and environmental samples). Their operation relies on the capillary flow of the sample throughout a series of sequential pads, each with different functionalities aiming to generate a signal to indicate the absence/presence (and, in some cases, the concentration) of the analyte of interest. To have a user-friendly operation, their development requires the optimization of multiple, interconnected parameters that may overwhelm new developers. In this tutorial, we provide the readers with: (i) the basic knowledge to understand the principles governing an LFA and to take informed decisions during lateral flow strip design and fabrication, (ii) a roadmap for optimal LFA development independent of the specific application, (iii) a step-by-step example procedure for the assembly and operation of an LF strip for the detection of human IgG and (iv) an extensive troubleshooting section addressing the most frequent issues in designing, assembling and using LFAs. By changing only the receptors, the provided example procedure can easily be adapted for cost-efficient detection of a broad variety of targets.

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