Ultra-Sensitive Sensors for Chemically and Biochemically Active Reagents Using Ion Channel-Forming Peptides

Background:Sensitive and specific detection of biological or chemical agents in solution is of significant interest for a vast range of applications including diagnosis of human disease monitoring activity of pharmaceuticals in the body assessing environmental contamination and detection of biological or chemical weapons agents in the field. Current sensor technologies are limited by their lack of specificity for particular analytes and also by their sensitivity or detection-level limit. Versatile selective sensitive sensor development is possible by exploiting the biophysical properties of naturally occurring ion-channel-forming peptides including Gramicidin A.Technology Description:Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered an ultrasensitive nanosensor that is able to detect minute quantities of a specific analyte potentially with single molecule sensitivity. The sensor utilizes the ion-channel-forming peptide Gramicidin A. The peptide is engineered to chemically interact with a particular analyte thus creating a biosensor with specificity for that analyte based on its unique functional properties. This characteristic allows the biosensor to be extremely selective and discriminate among many similar analytes. The readout of the biosensor is an electrical conductance change which is easily detected and able to be monitored continuously. The enhanced specificity and sensitivity of this innovative biosensor make it ideal for detecting analytes at concentrations that are currently below detection limits of conventional sensors.Applications:1) Environmental monitoring and toxicology 2) Medical diagnostics 3) Pharmacokinetic pharmacodynamic and therapeutic drug monitoring 4) Field detection of biowarfare or chemical warfare agents


1) Biosensor can be modified to selectively detect diverse molecules 2) Gramicidin A is commercially available and synthetically accessible

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