Single-molecule biosensors: Recent advances and applications
Single-molecule biosensors serve the unmet need for real time detection of individual biological molecules in the molecular crowd with high specificity and accuracy, uncovering unique properties of individual molecules which are hidden when measured using ensemble averaging methods. Measuring a signal generated by an individual molecule or its interaction with biological partners is not only crucial for early diagnosis of various diseases such as cancer and to follow medical treatments but also offers a great potential for future point-of-care devices and personalized medicine. This review summarizes and discusses recent advances in nanosensors for both in vitro and in vivo detection of biological molecules offering single-molecule sensitivity. In the first part, we focus on label-free platforms, including electrochemical, plasmonic, SERS-based and spectroelectrochemical biosensors. We review fluorescent single-molecule biosensors in the second part, highlighting nanoparticle-amplified assays, digital platforms and the utilization of CRISPR technology. We finally discuss recent advances in the emerging nanosensor technology of important biological species as well as future perspectives of these sensors.