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Point-of-Care Gene Circuit-Based Nucleic Acid Sensors: Rapid Diagnostic Platform during Pandemic

By 6th September 2021No Comments

The following study was conducted by Scientists from Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Program in Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, Peter Gilgan Center for Research and Learning, Toronto, ON, Canada; Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, The Biodesign Institute and the School of Molecular Sciences, Arizona State University, AZ, USA; Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mt Sinai Hospital, Sinai Health System, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, Ames, IA, USA; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Microbiology, Sinai Health System/University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; SickKids IBD Centre, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada;Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA. Study is published in Nature Communications Journal as detailed below.

Nature Communications; Volume 12, Article Number: 724 (2021)

A Glucose Meter Interface for Point-of-Care Gene Circuit-Based Diagnostics


Recent advances in cell-free synthetic biology have given rise to gene circuit-based sensors with the potential to provide decentralized and low-cost molecular diagnostics. However, it remains a challenge to deliver this sensing capacity into the hands of users in a practical manner. Here, we leverage the glucose meter, one of the most widely available point-of-care sensing devices, to serve as a universal reader for these decentralized diagnostics. We describe a molecular translator that can convert the activation of conventional gene circuit-based sensors into a glucose output that can be read by off-the-shelf glucose meters. We show the development of new glucogenic reporter systems, multiplexed reporter outputs and detection of nucleic acid targets down to the low attomolar range. Using this glucose-meter interface, we demonstrate the detection of a small-molecule analyte; sample-to-result diagnostics for typhoid, paratyphoid A/B; and show the potential for pandemic response with nucleic acid sensors for SARS-CoV-2.


Nature Communications



Amalfitano, E., Karlikow, M., Norouzi, M. et al. A glucose meter interface for point-of-care gene circuit-based diagnostics. Nat Commun 12, 724 (2021).