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Adapting Personal Glucose Monitors To Detect DNA

May 2, 2012

The latest episode in the American Chemical Society´s (ACS´) award-winning Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series focuses on adaptation of the ubiquitous personal glucose monitor, typically used to test blood sugar levels, for possible home use in testing for viruses and bacteria in human body fluids, food and other substances.

Based on research by Yi Lu, Ph.D., and colleagues and reported in ACS´ journal Analytical Chemistry, the new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from www.acs.org/globalchallenges.

Lu points out that developing low-cost tests for the public to use for early diagnosis of diseases, checking the safety of food and other testing that now take days and sophisticated laboratory instruments is one of the greatest challenges in chemistry. Such tests could improve health and reduce costs, especially for people in developing countries or rural areas in developed countries with scant medical resources. The researchers have been responding to this challenge with adaptations to the home glucose monitor, an essential device for millions of people with diabetes that´s inexpensive and simple to use.

In their latest research, the scientists describe how they adapted a glucose meter to monitor DNA. Their test takes place in a liquid containing sucrose (a sugar that isn´t detected by glucose meters). First, a bacterial or viral DNA fragment is captured and concentrated on beads. Then, the researchers add an enzyme that is stuck to a different DNA (which can bind to the bacterial or viral DNA). The enzyme, called invertase, turns the sucrose into glucose, which the glucose meter can measure. They detected a hepatitis B virus DNA fragment at concentrations comparable to or in some cases even better than many current DNA measurement systems, which are much more expensive and time-consuming.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st century´s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children and improving human health.

For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized Science, Spellbound, Science Elements and Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world´s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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