Hydrogel-Based Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for Biological Detection
Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) have become an important tool in the preparation of artificial and robust recognition materials that are capable of mimicking natural systems. MIPs have been regarded as 'antibody mimics' and have shown clear advantages over real antibodies for sensor technology. Currently, on-site diagnostic (OSD) and point-of-care (POC) biosensor development are heavily dominated by antibody-dependent immuno-sensors such as the lateral flow immuno-assay. Although antibodies exhibit a high degree of selectivity, any biological recognition element is inherently unstable with limited shelf-life, even when stored under optimum conditions. OSD and POC tests are essential for disease screening and treatment monitoring as part of emergency management. Introduced or naturally occurring pathogens can cause significant disruptions, raise panic in the population, and result in significant economic losses. Cheaper, smaller, and smarter devices for early detection of disease or environmental hazards ultimately lead to rapid containment and corrective action. To this end, there has been extensive research on detection platforms based on genetic or immune techniques. MIPs have proven to produce selective biological extractions that rival immunoaffinity-based separations, but without the tediously lengthy time-consuming process. MIPs could provide an alternative to antibodies, and ultimately lead to cheaper, smaller, and smarter biosensors.