Continuous glucose monitoring is still an imperfect technology, requiring patients to wear a sensor around their abdomens which has to be regularly replaced, and which can be improved in terms of maintaining accuracy over a longer period than a week. Researchers at University of Miami have reported in journal ACS Chemical Biology the development of a semisynthetic protein that can be used for the detection of glucose within the body’s pressure and temperature range.
The protein is based on the glucose recognition protein (GRP) produced by E. coli bacteria which the team modified and the genetic code of which expanded by adding unnatural amino acids. The stability of the new protein within the body should make it an excellent candidate for long-term monitoring of blood glucose, and may lead to fully implantable devices that can provide readings for years at a time.
Some more details from the study abstract:
The unnatural amino acids 5,5,5-trifluoroleucine (FL) and 5-fluorotryptophan (FW) were chosen for incorporation into the proteins. The resulting semisynthetic GRPs exhibit enhanced thermal stability and increased detection range of glucose without compromising its binding ability. These modifications enabled the utilization of the protein for the detection of glucose within physiological concentrations (mM) and temperatures ranging from hypothermia to hyperthermia. This ability to endow proteins such as GBP with improved stability and properties is critical in designing the next generation of tailor-made biosensing proteins for continuous in vivo glucose monitoring.