Heparin is a vital biomolecule in widespread clinical use as an anti-coagulant. Heparin sensors have potential applications in the bedside detection of heparin levels in human blood during surgery, while high-affinity heparin binders may enable the development of effective heparin reversal agents for use in patients once surgery is complete. However, human blood is a challenging medium in which to achieve selective high-affinity molecular recognition, and as such, this system provides a fascinating challenge to supramolecular chemists. This has encouraged research using a variety of different systems and is stimulating new approaches to the application of molecular recognition. This review article provides an overview of research from both clinical and supramolecular communities towards heparin binding and sensing and considers how this area may develop in the future.
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