The invention relates to the fabrication and use of biosensors comprising a plurality of optical fibers each fiber having attached to its "sensor end" biological "binding partners" (molecules that specifically bind other molecules to form a binding complex such as antibody-antigen, lectin-carbohydrate, nucleic acid-nucleic acid, biotin-avidin, etc.). The biosensor preferably bears two or more different species of biological binding partner. The sensor is fabricated by providing a plurality of groups of optical fibers. Each group is treated as a batch to attach a different species of biological binding partner to the sensor ends of the fibers comprising that bundle. Each fiber, or group of fibers within a bundle, may be uniquely identified so that the fibers, or group of fibers, when later combined in an array of different fibers, can be discretely addressed. Fibers or groups of fibers are then selected and discretely separated from different bundles. The discretely separated fibers are then combined at their sensor ends to produce a high density sensor array of fibers capable of assaying simultaneously the binding of components of a test sample to the various binding partners on the different fibers of the sensor array. The transmission ends of the optical fibers are then discretely addressed to detectors--such as a multiplicity of optical sensors. An optical signal, produced by binding of the binding partner to its substrate to form a binding complex, is conducted through the optical fiber or group of fibers to a detector for each discrete test. By examining the addressed transmission ends of fibers, or groups of fibers, the addressed transmission ends can transmit unique patterns assisting in rapid sample identification by the sensor.
This invention was made with the Government support under Grant No. CA 45919, awarded by the National Institute of Health and under Grant No. DE-AC03-76SF0098, awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.