Neurodegenerative disease is primarily characterized by protein misfolding and the resultant protein aggregation. Presence of soluble oligomeric aggregates of proteins including various Aβ and α-syn aggregate species can be correlated to the onset and progression of many neurodegenerative diseases. The ability to detect protein misfolding requires the design of a diagnostics assay the will enable molecular level probing. The use of nanoporous ceramic templates enables size based immobilization of the target proteins and by leveraging the principle of “macromolecular crowding” protein association can be mapped with a high degree of resolution. By tailoring the surface functionalization within nanoporous ceramic templates, macromolecular immobilization can be selectively controlled, which in turn significantly enhances the perturbation to the electrical double layer/. The changes to the electrical double layer are measured with a high degree of sensitivity through impedance spectroscopy.
Pre symptomatic diagnosis and distinction between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases can be achieved by the specific detection and quantification of levels of each of these different toxic protein species in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Detection using highly selective morphology specific reagents in conjunction with the ultrasensitive nanoporous electronic biosensor showed the presence of different protein morphologies in human CSF samples. Detection is primarily achieved by identifying the specific association of the protein with its receptor using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Furthermore, we show that these morphology specific reagents can readily classify between post-mortem CSF samples from AD, PD and cognitively normal sources. These studies suggest that detection of specific oligomeric aggregate species holds great promise as sensitive biomarkers for neurodegenerative disease.