Luis Baptista-Pires, Carmen C. Mayorga-Martínez, Mariana Medina-Sanchez,Helena Montón and Arben Merkoçi
A novel methodology for the isothermal amplification of Leishmania DNA using labeled primers combined with the advantages of magnetic purification/preconcentration and the use of gold nanoparticle (AuNP) tags for the sensitive electrochemical detection of such amplified DNA is developed. Primers labeled with AuNPs and magnetic beads (MBs) are used for the first time for the isothermal amplification reaction, being the amplified product ready for the electrochemical detection. The electrocatalytic activity of the AuNP tags toward the hydrogen evolution reaction allows the rapid quantification of the DNA on screen-printed carbon electrodes. Amplified products from the blood of dogs with Leishmania (positive samples) are discriminated from those of healthy dogs (blank samples). Quantitative studies demonstrate that the optimized method allows us to detect less than one parasite per microliter of blood (8 × 10−3 parasites in the isothermal amplification reaction). This pioneering approach is much more sensitive than traditional methods based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and is also more rapid, cheap, and user-friendly.