Cheap, molecular-wired, metabolite-measuring sensor

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Cambridge’s Anna-Maria Pappa, KAUST’s Sahika Inal, and colleagues have developed a low cost, molecular wired sensor that can measure metabolites in sweat, tears, saliva or blood.  It can be incorporated into flexible and stretchable substrates for cellular-level health monitoring.

A synthesised polymer acts as a molecular wire, accepting electrons produced during electrochemical reactions. It merges with sweat, tears or blood, absorbing ions and swelling, leading to high sensitivity.  The signal can be amplified when incorporated into complex circuits, responding to tiny fluctuations in metabolite concentration.

According to Pappa: “This is the first time that it’s been possible to use an electron accepting polymer that can be tailored to improve communication with the enzymes, which allows for the direct detection of a metabolite. It opens up new directions in biosensing, where materials can be designed to interact with a specific metabolite, resulting in far more sensitive and selective sensors.”


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