Approaches towards molecular amplification for sensing

Sean Goggins, Christopher G. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Citations (SciVal)
327 Downloads (Pure)


Diagnostic assays that rely on molecular interactions have come a long way; from initial reversible detection systems towards irreversible reaction indicator-based methods. More recently, the emergence of innovative molecular amplification methodologies has revolutionised sensing, allowing diagnostic assays to achieve ultra-low limits of detection. There have been a significant number of molecular amplification approaches developed over recent years to accommodate the wide variety of analytes that require sensitive detection. To celebrate this achievement, this comprehensive critical review has been compiled to give a broad overview of the many different approaches used to attain amplification in sensing with an aim to inspire the next generation of diagnostic assays looking to achieve the ultimate detection limit. This review has been created with the focus on how each conceptually unique molecular amplification methodology achieves amplification, not just its sensitivity, while highlighting any key processes. Excluded are any references that were not found to contain an obvious molecular amplifier or amplification component, or that did not use an appropriate signal readout that could be incorporated into a sensing application. Additionally, methodologies where amplification is achieved through advances in instrumentation are also excluded. Depending upon the type of approach employed, amplification strategies are divided into four categories: target, label, signal or receptor amplification. More recent, more complex protocols combine a number of approaches and are therefore categorised by which amplification component described within was considered as the biggest advancement. The advantages and disadvantages of each methodology are discussed along with any limits of detection, if stated in the original article. Any subsequent use of the methodology within sensing or any other application is also mentioned to draw attention to its practicality. The importance of amplification within sensing is wholly emphasised while perspectives on the future direction of the field are also shared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3157-3218
Number of pages62
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2016


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