Normally you wouldn’t want your test strips to get into contact with bacteria; you’d want to store the strips in a safe and clean place. But what if the bacteria were part of the test strip? Students from Missouri Science and Technology have made a system in which they use segments of DNA embedded in bacteria to detect glucose.
The students have used a non-virulent strain of E.coli and put designed genes into the bacteria’s DNA, enabling them to sense the presence of glucose. The bacteria emit a yellow glow if there is glucose and as the glucose concentration rises, the glow becomes brighter. The DNA senses a change in osmolarity due to the presence of glucose.
It could become the basis for a new way to monitor blood glucose levels. The plan is to replace the fluorescent gene with another gene, which would make the bacteria change color based on glucose concentrations. Bacteria based test strips might also be less expensive than chemical based strips, which are currently used. A future step in the development of this system, is to add an insulin gene for use in insulin pumps, where certain glucose levels trigger insulin production.
Press statement by Missouri University of Science and Technology: Student team’s glucose sensor uses DNA instead of chemicals…