Applications of gold nanoparticles in virus detection

Theranostics. 2018 Feb 15;8(7):1985-2017. doi: 10.7150/thno.23856. eCollection 2018.


Viruses are the smallest known microbes, yet they cause the most significant losses in human health. Most of the time, the best-known cure for viruses is the innate immunological defense system of the host; otherwise, the initial prevention of viral infection is the only alternative. Therefore, diagnosis is the primary strategy toward the overarching goal of virus control and elimination. The introduction of a new class of nanoscale materials with multiple unique properties and functions has sparked a series of breakthrough applications. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are widely reported to guide an impressive resurgence in biomedical and diagnostic applications. Here, we review the applications of AuNPs in virus testing and detection. The developed AuNP-based detection techniques are reported for various groups of clinically relevant viruses with a special focus on the applied types of bio-AuNP hybrid structures, virus detection targets, and assay modalities and formats. We pay particular attention to highlighting the functional role and activity of each core Au nanostructure and the resultant detection improvements in terms of sensitivity, detection range, and time. In addition, we provide a general summary of the contributions of AuNPs to the mainstream methods of virus detection, technical measures, and recommendations required in guidance toward commercial in-field applications.

Keywords: Gold nanoparticles; detection; infection; sensing; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Gold*
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Plants
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*


  • Gold