CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Glucose meters aren't just for diabetics anymore. Thanks to University of Illinois chemists, they can be used as simple, portable, inexpensive meters for a number of target molecules in blood, serum, water or food.
Chemistry professor Yi Lu and postdoctoral researcher Yu Xiang published their findings in the journal Nature Chemistry.
"The advantages of our method are high portability, low cost, wide availability and quantitative detection of a broad range of targets in medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring," Lu said. "Anyone could use it for a wide range of detections at home and in the field for targets they may care about, such as vital metabolites for a healthy living, contaminants in their drinking water or food, or potential disease markers."
A glucose meter is one of the few widely available devices that can quantitatively detect target molecules in a solution, a necessity for diagnosis and detection, but only responds to one chemical: glucose. To use them to detect another target, the researchers coupled them with a class of molecular sensors called functional DNA sensors.
Functional DNA sensors use short segments of DNA that bind to specific targets. A number of functional DNAs and RNAs are available to recognize a wide variety of targets.
They have been used in the laboratory in conjunction with complex and more expensive equipment, but Lu and Xiang saw the potential for partnering them with pocket glucose meters.
The DNA segments, immobilized on magnetic particles, are bound to the enzyme invertase, which can catalyze conversion of sucrose (table sugar) to glucose. The user adds a sample of blood, serum or water to the functional DNA sensor to test for drugs, disease markers, contaminants or other molecules. When the target molecule binds to the DNA, invertase is released into the solution. After removing the magnetic particle by a magnet, the glucose level
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign