, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 213-221

“Smart” Materials for Biosensing Devices: Cell-Mimicking Supramolecular Assemblies and Colorimetric Detection of Pathogenic Agents

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Abstract

Mimicking cell membrane and the biomolecular recognition associated with membranes represents a great technical challenge, yet it has opened doors to innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Our work has focused on design and synthesis of a class of “smart materials” exploiting biological principals for use in biosensors: these materials are functional polymeric assemblies that mimic the cell membrane and conveniently report the presence of pathogens with a color change. Biologically active cell membrane components are incorporated into conjugated polymers with desirable optical properties and the binding of the target molecules onto the material triggers conformational and electronic shifts that are reflected in a chromatic change (a so-called biochromic shift) that is conveniently observed and recorded. Langmuir–Blodgett thin films and vesicle bilayers provide ideal configurations for precise delivery of the biological binding entity to the sensing interface, and for control of molecular orientation for effective biomolecular interaction. Polydiacetylenic membrane-mimicking materials containing cell surface receptor gangliosides and sialic acid residues, respectively were formulated into these architectures and used for colorimetric detection of bacterial toxins and influenza virus. One advantage of these biochromic conjugated polymer (BCP) sensors is that their molecular recognition and signal transduction functionalities are resident in a single functional unit, making them amenable to convenient microfabrication and use.