Sensory systems use a variety of membrane-bound receptors, including responsive ion channels, to discriminate between a multitude of stimuli. Here we describe how engineered membrane pores can be used to make rapid and sensitive biosensors with potential applications that range from the detection of biological warfare agents to pharmaceutical screening. Notably, use of the engineered pores in stochastic sensing, a single-molecule detection technology, reveals the identity of an analyte as well as its concentration.
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The investigation of stochastic sensors in the Bayley laboratory has been supported by DARPA, DOE, NIH, ONR and the Texas Advanced Technology Program. The development of membrane arrays in the Cremer laboratory has been supported by ONR, ARO, ACS-PRF, 3M Corporation and the Texas Advanced Technology Program. We thank the members of our laboratories for their energetic pursuit of these projects, and D. Deamer and J. Kauer for comments on the manuscript.
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Bayley, H., Cremer, P. Stochastic sensors inspired by biology. Nature 413, 226–230 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/35093038
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