Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 1, pp 209–230 | Cite as

Natural and artificial ion channels for biosensing platforms

  • L. StellerEmail author
  • M. Kreir
  • R. Salzer


The single-molecule selectivity and specificity of the binding process together with the expected intrinsic gain factor obtained when utilizing flow through a channel have attracted the attention of analytical chemists for two decades. Sensitive and selective ion channel biosensors for high-throughput screening are having an increasing impact on modern medical care, drug screening, environmental monitoring, food safety, and biowarefare control. Even virus antigens can be detected by ion channel biosensors. The study of ion channels and other transmembrane proteins is expected to lead to the development of new medications and therapies for a wide range of illnesses. From the first attempts to use membrane proteins as the receptive part of a sensor, ion channels have been engineered as chemical sensors. Several other types of peptidic or nonpeptidic channels have been investigated. Various gating mechanisms have been implemented in their pores. Three technical problems had to be solved to achieve practical biosensors based on ion channels: the fabrication of stable lipid bilayer membranes, the incorporation of a receptor into such a structure, and the marriage of the modified membrane to a transducer. The current status of these three areas of research, together with typical applications of ion-channel biosensors, are discussed in this review.


Biosensor Ion channel Lipid membrane Planar patch clamp High throughput Drug sensing 



We would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF 13N10969; BMBF 03IP610).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Magnetic and Acoustic ResonancesLeibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Nanion Technologies GmbHMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryDresden University of TechnologyDresdenGermany

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