Biosensor-based microRNA detection: techniques, design, performance, and challenges
The current state of biosensor-based techniques for amplification-free microRNA (miRNA) detection is critically reviewed. Comparison with non-sensor and amplification-based molecular techniques (MTs), such as polymerase-based methods, is made in terms of transduction mechanism, associated protocol, and sensitivity. Challenges associated with miRNA hybridization thermodynamics which affect assay selectivity and amplification bias are briefly discussed. Electrochemical, electromechanical, and optical classes of miRNA biosensors are reviewed in terms of transduction mechanism, limit of detection (LOD), time-to-results (TTR), multiplexing potential, and measurement robustness. Current trends suggest that biosensor-based techniques (BTs) for miRNA assay will complement MTs due to the advantages of amplification-free detection, LOD being femtomolar (fM)–attomolar (aM), short TTR, multiplexing capability, and minimal sample preparation requirement. Areas of future importance in miRNA BT development are presented which include focus on achieving high measurement confidence and multiplexing capabilities.