Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) have specialized binding sites that enable them to detect and/or remove a specific target molecule in their microenvironment. Researchers at Stanford have discovered that high affinity MIPs, typically limited to one time use, can be used repeatedly by transmitting electrical pulses to release the bound target molecules.
MIPs with high binding affinity for their target molecule serve as highly sensitive and specific sensors. They are especially useful for biological applications that commonly have picomolar to nanomolar limits of detection. However, their in vivo use has been limited due to their slow release kinetics, which confines them to single use applications. Therefore, it has been common to use MIPs with poor binding affinity in vivo or high affinity MIPs that undergo conformational changes in response to external stimuli in vitro.
To address the limitation, Stanford researchers have demonstrated that electrical pulses transmitted to MIPs can facilitate the extraction of the target molecule via electrostatic repulsion. This approach enables precise control of high affinity interactions between the MIP and the target molecule without changing the MIP's internal properties. Using a series of electrical pulses, MIPs can be used for continuous longitudinal real-time sensing of the target molecules.
Figure 1. a) MIP fabrication process. b) Electrical pulse removes target molecules (analytes) from the MIP. c) With electrical stimulation, the impedance (z) decreases, which signifies release of target molecules (Adapted from Hemed et al., 2023).
Stage of Development
Proof of concept
- Drug delivery
- Biosensing (long term physiological monitoring)
- Affinity separation
- Solid-phase extraction
- Environmental monitoring
- Simplifies MIP synthesis compared to stimuli-responsive MIPs
- Chemical and thermal stability
- No tradeoff between binding affinity and reversibility
- High selectivity
- Rapid sensing; makes real-time detection possible
- Hemed, N. M., Leal-Ortiz, S., et al. (2023). On-Demand, Reversible, Ultrasensitive Polymer Membrane Based on Molecular Imprinting Polymer. ACS nano, 17(6), 5632–5643.
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