Smart Nano-Tools for Detecting Ginkgo Tree Compounds

Greg Howard
1st March, 2024

Smart Nano-Tools for Detecting Ginkgo Tree Compounds

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers developed a new method to detect toxic substances in Ginkgo biloba products using color changes
  • The method uses a smartphone app for easy, on-site testing without bulky lab equipment
  • It proved accurate and reliable in testing real ginkgo nut and powder samples
In recent years, the interest in natural health products has surged, with Ginkgo biloba being a notable example due to its potential protective effects against toxins and radiation[2]. However, the presence of toxic ginkgolic acids (GAs) in Ginkgo biloba products poses a significant health risk, necessitating robust detection methods to ensure consumer safety. Researchers at Nanjing Forestry University have developed a novel approach to tackle this issue[1]. The core of the problem lies in the difficulty of detecting GAs in Ginkgo biloba-related foods. Traditional methods require bulky and expensive instruments, which are impractical for on-site testing. The innovative study from Nanjing Forestry University presents a solution: a colorimetric sensor capable of identifying GAs without the need for cumbersome equipment. The researchers designed CuAuTA nanocomposites by assembling gold nanoclusters with copper tannic acid (CuTA). These nanocomposites function as peroxidase mimics, meaning they can catalyze reactions similar to the natural enzyme peroxidase. The CuAuTA nanocomposites demonstrated enhanced peroxidase-like properties compared to single CuTA, making them highly effective for colorimetric sensing—a method where color change indicates the presence of a specific substance. This sensing system operates based on the inhibitory effects of GAs on the catalytic activity of the CuAuTA nanozymes. When GAs are present, they bind to the surface of the CuAuTA, blocking its active sites and decreasing its ability to catalyze the colorimetric reaction. This inhibition results in a measurable color change, which can be quantified to determine the concentration of GAs. To make this method accessible for field testing, the team leveraged a smartphone and ImageJ software, enabling the detection of GAs with a limit as low as 0.86 μg mL-1. This approach allows for quick and easy monitoring of Ginkgo biloba products without the need for specialized laboratory equipment. The study also demonstrated the selectivity of the CuAuTA-based sensor, showing that it could distinguish GAs from other potential interfering substances. This is crucial for ensuring the accuracy of the detection in complex food matrices. Furthermore, the practical application of this method was validated by testing real ginkgo nut and ginkgo powder samples. The recovery rates ranged from 93.12 to 111.6%, with relative standard deviations below 0.3%, indicating the reliability and precision of the sensor. This research not only provides a feasible strategy for determining the presence of GAs in food products but also expands the application of nanozymes in the field of food safety detection. The CuAuTA nanozyme-based system represents a significant advancement, building upon previous work that utilized nanozymes for various analytical and therapeutic purposes, such as the development of highly sensitive colorimetric sensors for tannic acid[3] and the design of multifunctional nanozymes to combat bacterial infections[4]. By integrating the enhanced catalytic performance of nanozymes with a user-friendly detection platform, the researchers have created a tool that could significantly improve the safety of Ginkgo biloba consumption. This study exemplifies the potential of nanozymes to revolutionize not only the field of food safety but also the broader scope of environmental monitoring and public health.

BiotechBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Self-assembly of CuAuTA nanozymes for intelligent detection of ginkgolic acids.

Published 28th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Potentialities of Ginkgo extract on toxicants, toxins, and radiation: a critical review.

3) High-loading Cu single-atom nanozymes supported by carbon nitride with peroxidase-like activity for the colorimetric detection of tannic acid.

4) Charge-Switchable CuxO Nanozyme with Peroxidase and Near-Infrared Light Enhanced Photothermal Activity for Wound Antibacterial Application.

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