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  1. Ribonuclease A (RNase A) plays significant roles in several physiological and pathological conditions and can be used as a valuable diagnostic biomarker for human diseases such as myocardial infarction and cancer. Hence, it is of great importance to develop a rapid and cost-effective method for the highly sensitive detection of RNase A. The significance of RNase A assay is further enhanced by the growing attention from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries to develop RNA-based vaccines and drugs in large part as a result of the successful development of mRNA vaccines in the COVID-19 pandemic. Herein, we report a label-free method for the detection of RNase A by monitoring its proteolytic cleavage of an RNA substrate in a nanopore. The method is ultra-sensitive with the limit of detection reaching as low as 30 femtogram per milliliter. Furthermore, sensor selectivity and the effects of temperature, incubation time, metal ion, salt concentration on sensor sensitivity were also investigated. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2025
  2. Iron is an essential element that plays critical roles in many biological/metabolic processes, ranging from oxygen transport, mitochondrial respiration, to host defense and cell signaling. Maintaining an appropriate iron level in the body is vital to the human health. Iron deficiency or overload can cause life-threatening conditions. Thus, developing a new, rapid, cost-effective, and easy to use method for iron detection is significant not only for environmental monitoring but also for disease prevention. In this study, we report an innovative Fe3+ detection strategy by using both a ligand probe and an engineered nanopore with two binding sites. In our design, one binding site of the nanopore has a strong interaction with the ligand probe, while the other is more selective toward interfering species. Based on the difference in the number of ligand DTPMPA events in the absence and presence of ferric ions, micromolar concentrations of Fe3+ could be detected within minutes. Our method is selective: micromolar concentrations of Mg2+, Ca2+, Cd2+, Zn2+, Ni2+, Co2+, Mn2+, and Cu2+ would not interfere with the detection of ferric ions. Furthermore, Cu2+, Ni2+, Co2+, Zn2+, and Mn2+ produced current blockage events with quite different signatures from each other, enabling their simultaneous detection. In addition, simulated water and serum samples were successfully analyzed. The nanopore sensing strategy developed in this work should find useful application in the development of stochastic sensors for other substances, especially in situations where multi-analyte concurrent detection is desired. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025