Miniaturisation of a peptide-based electrochemical protease activity sensor using platinum microelectrodes
Proteases are ideal target biomarkers as they have been implicated in many disease states, including steps associated with cancer progression. Electrochemical peptide-based biosensors have attracted much interest in recent years. However, the significantly large size of the electrodes typically used in most of these platforms has led to performance limitations. These could be addressed by the enhancements offered by microelectrodes, such as rapid response times, improved mass transport, higher signal-to-noise and sensitivity, as well as more localised and less invasive measurements. We present the production and characterisation of a miniaturised electrochemical biosensor for the detection of trypsin, based on 25 μm diameter Pt microelectrodes (rather than the ubiquitous Au electrodes), benchmarked by establishing the equivalent Pt macroelectrode response in terms of quantitative response to the protease, the kinetics of cleavage and the effects of non-specific protein binding and temperature. Interestingly, although there was little difference between Au and Pt macroelectrode response, significant differences were observed between the responses of the Pt macroelectrode and microelectrode systems indicative of increased reproducibility in the microelectrode SAM structure and sensor performance between the electrodes, increased storage stability and a decrease in the cleavage rate at functionalised microelectrodes, which is mitigated by measurement at normal body temperature. Together, these results demonstrate the robustness and sensitivity of the miniaturised sensing platform and its ability to operate within the clinically-relevant concentration ranges of proteases in normal and disease states. These are critical features for its translation into implantable devices.