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Biomimetic Nanomaterials - Its Role In Non-Invasive Disease Diagnosis

Current threats to human life include serious illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

In order to treat disease and practice individualized care, non-invasive approaches for the early detection of major diseases are essential.

Nanomaterials typically have sizes of between 1 and 100 nm, which puts them on par with the smallest biological structures.

Due to their physical, chemical, and biocompatibility characteristics, nanomaterials have considerable potential for use in biomedical applications. They are also appealing for use in biomimetic medicine.

By utilizing biomimetic design concepts, it is possible to get beyond some of the drawbacks of conventional nanoparticles, including toxicity and easy immune system recognition.

Recent advances in biomimetic functionalized nanotechnology have allowed for the modification and functionalization of nanomaterials by biomolecules or components originating from cell membranes, resulting in biomimetic nanomaterials with improved stability, targeting precision, and biocompatibility.

Simulating biological activities and reaction processes has become simpler because of biomimetic nanomaterials, useful materials with biomedical applications.

It is possible to develop selectivity for disease biomarkers or tissues by the biomimetic functionalized alteration of nanomaterials, which raises the possibility that these biomimetic nanomaterials may be utilized to diagnose diseases.

Thus, there is a lot of interest in the application of biomimetic nanomaterials for non-invasive disease diagnosis.

Properties Of Various Advanced Biomimetic Nanomaterials

The diverse sizes, special mechanical, electrical, photonic, and magnetic properties, as well as the high surface areas (1000 m2/g), of biomimetic nanomaterials make them ideal for a variety of applications, such as non-invasively diagnosing early-stage biological disorders. Based on these fundamental benefits, biomimetic nanoparticles are predicted to change the domains of diagnosis and personalized medicine.

Transition Metal And Metal Oxide-Based Nanomaterials

Gold Nanoparticles

The use of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) in biomedical applications is widespread. Colloidal gold can be used to create AuNPs with many morphologies, including spheres, nanorods, nanostars, nanocages, and nanoshells. There are both top-down (physical manipulation) and bottom-up (chemical transformation) techniques for creating AuNPs.

Moreover, AuNPs are simple to produce and functionalize and display great stability, unique photoelectric characteristics, a high surface-to-volume ratio, strong biocompatibility, and minimal cytotoxicity. The attachment of biomolecules to AuNPs has no effect on their functional activity.

AuNPs can be used as scaffolds to attach biomolecules that interact selectively with various receptors to detect multiple target analytes. This property enables the design of biosensors with rapid detection, easy operation, high selectivity, and high sensitivity. Customized AuNPs can target tumors in bioimaging applications.

Due to their extraordinary capacity to create stable optical signals through direct light scattering or intrinsic photoluminescence (PL), which is connected to localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), AuNPs are intriguing for the non-labeled, non-invasive imaging of biological samples.

Silver Nanoparticles

Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) exhibit unique optical, chemical, electrical, and catalytic capabilities that can be tuned by changing surface qualities, sizes, and forms. AgNPs come in spheres, rods, cubes, shells, clusters, and stars.

Easy chemical reduction from stable silver (I) salts yields AgNPs. Modification increases AgNPs' water and air stability.

AgNPs are used in imaging, sensing, diagnostics, etc. in biomedicine. AgNPs are a viable candidate for point-of-care devices in clinical applications and are projected to be a future research hotspot.

Magnetic Nanomaterials

Magnetic nanoparticles, which are both magnetic and biological, have biomedical applications. Iron oxide-based magnetic nanoparticles can increase tumor permeability and retention, while functional nanoparticles can localize malignancy.

Early screening and non-invasive illness diagnosis can be done using magnetic field sensors and magnetic particles. Magnetic nanoparticles can improve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast and aid in molecular and cellular illness diagnosis.

Carbon Nanomaterials


Graphene is a two-dimensional hexagonal carbon allotrope. Graphene's unusual structure, superior mechanical, electrical, thermal, and optical properties, and biocompatibility have attracted biomedical researchers.

Graphene-based nanomaterials include graphene oxide (GO), reduced graphene oxide (rGO), and graphene-like nanomaterials. Graphene and its derivatives have facile surface functionalization, great electron and heat conductivity, and high mechanical strength, allowing them to be employed as disease biomarker sensors at low concentrations.

Graphene is used in next-generation electronics. Low toxicity and biocompatibility make graphene-based nanomaterials promising in vitro and in vivo imaging agents.

Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are used in biosensors, biological contrast agents, and non-invasive illness detection due to their electrical conductivity and luminosity. CNTs can be single-walled (SWCNTs) or multi-walled (MWCNTs).

SWCNTs are one-dimensional, symmetric graphene cylinders. Multilayer concentric cylinders form MWCNTs, which conduct electricity well. MWCNTs have better mechanical, structural, and optical qualities than MWCNTs.

Covalent or non-covalent bonding can increase CNTs' biocompatibility. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)-modified CNTs are more soluble and biocompatible than bare CNTs.

Silica-Based Nanomaterials

Silica-based nanoparticles (SNPs) have various advantages, including facile manufacturing, tunable particle size and surface charge, and cost-effectiveness. Due to their biocompatibility and tunable physicochemical features, SNPs are widely used in biomedicine.

In addition, silicon-based nanomaterials and mixtures of silicon-based and other nanoparticles have received attention in non-invasive illness diagnostics. MSNs have highly specific surface areas and functionalized surfaces, making them excellent for imaging agents.

MSNs are employed in optical imaging (OI), MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), and ultrasound imaging (USI) systems.

Liposome-Based Nanomaterials

Liposomes are bilayers of phospholipids and cholesterol surrounding an aqueous core. Biomedical studies on liposomes have focused on their usage as drug nanocarriers.

Cell-specific targeting by liposomes is useful in disease diagnostics. Ultrasonic, ethanol injection, lipid membrane hydration, and microemulsion are liposome preparation methods.

Liposomes dissolve hydrophilic and hydrophobic compounds. After surface modification, liposomes are biologically compatible and biodegradable, making them useful as carriers. Liposomes with tagged probes for imaging are a prominent topic.

Quantum Dots-Based Nanomaterials

Nanometer-scale quantum dots are biocompatible and low-toxic. QDs feature high quantum yield, tunable light emission, and chemical and optical stability. QDs are used in optical biosensors to detect analytes and enzymes.

QDs coupled with ligands can recognize specific targets and follow dynamic processes. QD toxicity is related to its chemical makeup and can be decreased by functionalizing its surface with biocompatible compounds for therapeutic application in vivo. QDs are being integrated with nanoparticles and/or bioactive compounds to produce disease-diagnosis platforms.

Upconversion-Based Nanomaterials

Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are luminous nanomaterials. Lanthanide-based UCNPs have been the most investigated because of their peculiar spectrum features, which are activated by low-energy radiation (near-infrared [NIR] light) and create high-energy emission (visible or ultraviolet light) at high electron energy.

UCNPs exhibit great photostability, a large emission bandwidth, facile color modification, good surface wetting, and low cytotoxicity. Biomedical sensing and imaging are promising applications for UCNPs with organic capping ligands or inorganic shell layers.

The ability to use NIR excitation minimizes light damage and facilitates deep tissue penetration, especially for UCNPs containing rare earth ions.

Protein-Based Nanomaterials

Proteins are involved in practically all biological processes. Protein-based nanomaterials (PBNs) are biocompatible and have numerous functional groups that can bind functional molecules and metal ions. PBNs are bioactive and can be employed as carriers without surface modification.

PBNs integrate nanomaterial size and surface chemistry with protein physical and chemical characteristics. PBNs are used in bioimaging and biochip-based detection.

Human serum albumin, bovine serum albumin (BSA), ferritin, and transferrin are being explored to build PBNs. Future disease imaging may use PBNs widely.

Biomimetic Nanomaterials - Innovative Techniques For Non-Invasive Disease Diagnosis


Biosensors have a lot of potential as a dependable method for early non-invasive cancer diagnosis. For non-invasive diagnosis, samples of bodily fluids or exhaled gases are taken in biosensor-based illness detection. By enabling early disease diagnosis when certain disease biomarkers first emerge, biosensors have significantly altered how diseases are diagnosed.

With just a few samples, biosensors allow for the sensitive and accurate identification of disease indicators. Three components make up a standard biosensor configuration: a bioreceptor (such as an enzyme, antibody, or lipid) that controls the device's selectivity; a transducer that converts a physical or chemical change into a signal; and a signal output unit.

For non-invasive cancer screening, mass biosensors, electrical biosensors, and optical biosensors have all been employed. The development of biosensors with improved sensitivity and biomarker detection capabilities is the focus of current research. The creation of extremely sensitive biosensors for the early detection of disease is made possible by biomimetic nanomaterials.

Little balls of light connected by different lines in a blue background
Little balls of light connected by different lines in a blue background

Biosensors For Metabolic Disease Diagnosis

For the detection of BSA, Zhao et al. created a sandwich-type pressure sensor made of AuNPs and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). This detection technology lays the groundwork for the future detection of nephritis due to the similar tissue architecture of bovine serum protein and human serum protein.

The PDMS film has a BSA recognition layer (BRL) based on AuNPs on one side. Self-assembled 16-mercaptohexadecanoic acid, which was covalently coupled with modified anti-BSA, was coated on the BRL. As a result, the sandwich-type pressure sensor can identify and bind BSA with particularity.

Biosensors For Inflammatory Diseases Diagnosis

By measuring salivary gastric protein, Lee et al. revealed a novel electrochemical immunosensor to non-invasively diagnose laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). Protein is digested by pepsin, a stomach acid component. Both acid and non-acid reflux contribute to the harm done by LPR.

As a result, physicians are interested in pepsin as a potential biomarker for the diagnosis of LPR. Polypyrrole nanocorals were used to make a screen-printed carbon electrode, and via electrodeposition, AuNPs were added for decoration. A pepsin antibody was mounted on the AuNP-decorated electrode to create the immunosensor.

Electrochemical characterization was carried out using cyclic voltammetry, and the immunosensor's response to various pepsin concentrations was studied using differential pulse voltammetry. The sensor has a 2.2 ng/mL detection limit, a linear range of 6.25-100 ng/mL, and good specificity.

Biosensors For Cancer Diagnosis

Hu et al. employed urine perilipin-2 (PLIN-2) to create a plasmonic paper biosensor based on gold nanorattles that is sensitive and specific for the non-invasive detection of early-stage renal cell cancer. The disclosed biosensor can be employed for the quick, sensitive, affordable, and non-invasive diagnosis of kidney cancer, especially in high-risk populations, because gold nanorattles have a higher refractive index sensitivity than their gold nanorod counterparts with a similar LSPR wavelength.

Using a bifunctional PEG method, a monoclonal antibody specific for PLIN-2 was used to functionalize the gold nanorattles. The non-specific binding sites were further neutralized by the residual PEG. The particular analyte PLIN-2 was paired with a plasmonic paper biosensor, changing the LSPR wavelength.

This technique allows for the detection of PLIN-2 in the dynamic range of 50 pg/mL to 5 μg/mL, and it was discovered that the concentration of PLIN-2 was favorably linked with tumor growth (Pearson coefficient = 0.59).

People Also Ask

What Is Biomimetic Nanotechnology?

The design and synthesis of new functional materials using biologically similar products, structures, functionalities, and processes is known as biomimetic materials processing, or BMMP.

What Is Biomimetic Engineering?

In the interdisciplinary field of biomimetics, ideas from engineering, chemistry, and biology are used to create materials, artificial systems, or devices that replicate biological processes.

What Are Biomimetic With Examples?

Examples of biomimetic investigations include the development of stable building structures based on the backbone of turban shells, velcro closures modeled after burrs; and fluid-drag reduction swimsuits inspired by the structure of shark skin.

What Are Biomimetics Used For?

Biomimetics is the study of nature and natural events in order to comprehend the underlying mechanisms, get ideas from nature, and apply notions that may improve science, engineering, and medicine.

Concluding Remarks

Biomimetic nanomaterials have extensive biomedical application potential and play crucial roles in noninvasive disease diagnosis. Due to their distinct architectures and biophysical and chemical properties, metal nanoparticles, carbon-based nanomaterials, and silica-based nanomaterials have garnered great research interest.

In particular, the use of gold, silver, and graphene nanoparticles in the noninvasive early identification of illnesses has been a prominent topic of research. These nanomaterials interact with illness biomarkers in vivo and generate signals detectable by biosensors and biological imaging for the diagnosis of disease.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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