AIEgen bioconjugates for specific detection of disease-related protein biomarkers
Mis-regulation of certain proteins and enzymes is often identified as an indicator of many pathologies, and these disease-related proteins can be used as biomarkers to diagnose disease onset and progression. Indeed, bioprobes with various working mechanisms have been developed for the sensing of these protein biomarkers. Particularly, fluorophore-based probes have favorably been welcomed due to their outstanding properties such as easy synthesis, facile modification, real-time, on-site responsiveness, and noninvasiveness. However, conventional fluorophores usually suffer from aggregation-caused quenching, which greatly affects their sensitivity and photostability. To overcome this challenge, fluorogens with aggregation-induced emission features have been developed, which offer higher signal to noise ratios and better resistance to photobleaching in sensing and imaging. In this review, the recent development of specific light-up bioprobes based on AIEgen bioconjugates for sensing and imaging of disease-related protein biomarkers is summarized and discussed with the aim to serve as a guidance for the design of state-of-the-art AIEgen probes for a wide range of biomedical applications.