Paper-Based Strips for the Electrochemical Detection of Single and Double Stranded DNA

The detection of double stranded DNA (dsDNA) is often associated with the use of laboratory-bound approaches and/or with the prior generation of single stranded DNA (ssDNA), making these methods not suitable for in situ monitoring, i.e., point-of-care diagnostics. Screen-printed technology, coupled to the use of triplex forming oligonucleotides (TFO) as the recognizing probes, offers a great possibility toward the development of portable analytical tools. Moreover, the continuous demand for sustainable processes and waste lowering have highlighted the role of paper-based substrates for manufacturing easy-to-use, low-cost, and sustainable electrochemical devices. In this work, filter paper and copy paper have been utilized to produce E-DNA strips. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been exploited to immobilize the methylene blue (MB)-tagged TFO and to enhance the charge transfer kinetics at the electrode surface. Both paper-based substrates have been electrochemically characterized, and in addition, the effect of the amount of waxed layers has been evaluated. The paper-based E-DNA strips have been challenged toward the detection of three model targets, obtaining 3 and 7 nM as the detection limit, respectively, for single and double stranded sequences. The repeatability of the manufacturing (homemade) process has been evaluated with a relative standard deviation of approximately 10%. The effectiveness of the filter paper-based platform has been also evaluated in undiluted serum obtaining a similar value of the detection limit (compared to the measurements carried out in buffer solution). In addition, a synthetic PCR amplified dsDNA sequence, related to HIV, has been detected in serum samples.