Using photo-initiated polymerization reactions to detect molecular recognition
Widely used medical diagnostic devices and assays that sense the presence of a particular molecule in a bodily fluid often rely on either a nanoparticle label or an enzymatic reaction to generate a signal that is easily detectable. In many cases, it is desirable if the magnitude of the signal correlates with the concentration of the molecule of interest. Photo-initiated polymerization reactions are an alternative means of generating amplified signals that can be used to quantify biological molecules in complex fluids. In this case, the formation of a polymer, typically a cross-linked hydrogel, signifies the presence of the molecule of interest. This tutorial review explains how photo-initiated polymerization reactions have been used in a conditional manner to detect and quantify molecular recognition events. We weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using photo-initiated reactions in comparison with other approaches and highlight exciting directions and opportunities in this area.