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Polysaccharides have key biological functions and can be harnessed for therapeutic roles, such as the anticoagulant heparin. Their complexity—e.g., >100 monosaccharides with variety in linkage and branching structure—significantly complicates analysis compared to other biopolymers such as DNA and proteins. More, and improved, analysis tools have been called for, and here we demonstrate that solid-state silicon nitride nanopore sensors and tuned sensing conditions can be used to reliably detect native polysaccharides and enzymatic digestion products, differentiate between different polysaccharides in straightforward assays, provide new experimental insights into nanopore electrokinetics, and uncover polysaccharide properties. We show that nanopore sensing allows us to easily differentiate between a clinical heparin sample and one spiked with the contaminant that caused deaths in 2008 when its presence went undetected by conventional assays. The work reported here lays a foundation to further explore polysaccharide characterization and develop assays using thin-film solidstate nanopore sensors.
Buddini Iroshika Karawdeniya et al. "Surveying silicon nitride nanopores for glycomics and heparin quality assurance." Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 3278 (2018). Available: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05751-y
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