The object of this program is develop molecular recognition elements (peptide based receptors) that bind discriminately to pathogenic bacteria with potential applications in textile embedded sensors for the OFW uniform and shelters, water purification and monitoring, food packaging, food biosensors and medical sensors.
There are two important features of sensor development (1) precise molecular recognition and (2) signal transduction and amplification. While the developmental technologies of signal transduction and amplification are rapidly progressing, current molecular recognition methodologies do not possess the key elements necessary for an effective nanoscale sensor. Current molecular recognition elements include antibody-antigen binding and enzyme-catalyzed reactions, which in many cases require complex or lengthy procedures for the detection of target bacterial pathogens. In addition, sensitivity and selectivity in complex mixtures are not satisfactory. Nature has provided all living organisms with protective mechanisms for sustainment and survivability. We have chosen one of these systems as the basis for our peptide array. Bacteria, fungi, yeast, insects and mammals produce antimicrobial peptides that bind to bacterial cells, insert into the cell membrane and form pores, and often result in cell death. We would like to take advantage of the ability of this class of peptides to bind to bacterial cell surfaces and utilize biocombinatorial techniques to tailor specific and selective peptides with improved discrimination.