Biosensors are of great significance because of their capability to resolve a potentially large number of analytical problems and challenges in very diverse areas such as defense, homeland security, agriculture and food safety, environmental monitoring, medicine, pharmacology, industry, etc. The expanding role of biosensing in society and a real-world environment has led to an exponential growth of the R&D efforts around the world. The world market for biosensor devices, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc., is expected to reach $12 billion by 2015. Such expedient growth is driven by several factors including medical and health problems, such as a growing population with a high risk of diabetes and obesity, and the rising incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, etc.; significant problems with environmental monitoring; and of course serious challenges in security and military applications and agriculture/food safety. A review paper in the biosensor technology area may be structured based on (i) the principles of detection, such as the type of transducer platform, bioanalytical principles (affinity or kinetic), and biorecognition elements origin/properties (i.e. antibodies, enzymes, cells, aptamers, etc.), and (ii) the application area. This review follows the latter strategy and focuses on the applications. This allows discussion on how different sensing strategies are brought to bear on the same problem and highlights advantages/disadvantages of these sensing strategies. Given the broad range of biosensor related applications, several particularly relevant areas of application were selected for review: biological threat agents, chemical threat agents, and medicine.
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