Ionic-Liquid-Based Biomarker Concentration and Detection
Aqueous two-phase systems (ATPSs) have been widely utilized for liquid-liquid extraction and purification of biomolecules, with some studies also demonstrating their capacity as a biomarker concentration technique for use in diagnostic settings. As the limited polarity range of conventional polymer-based ATPSs can restrict their use, ionic liquid (IL)-based ATPSs have been recently proposed as a promising alternative to polymer-based ATPSs, since ILs are regarded as tunable solvents with excellent solvation capabilities for a variety of natural compounds and proteins. This study demonstrates the first application of IL ATPSs to point-of-care diagnostics. ATPSs consisting of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ([Bmim][BF4]) and sodium phosphate salt were utilized to quickly concentrate biomarkers prior to detection using the lateral-flow immunoassay (LFA). We found the phase separation speed of the IL ATPS to be very rapid and a significant improvement upon the separation speed of both polymer-salt and micellar ATPSs. This system was successfully applied to both sandwich and competitive LFA formats and enhanced the detection of both Escherichia coli bacteria and the transferrin protein up to 8- and 20-fold, respectively. This system’s compatibility with a broad range of biomolecules, rapid phase separation speed, and tunability suggest wide applicability for a large range of different antigens and biomarkers.