Issue Date: March 31, 2008
Control System With An Enzyme PIN
A security system with a personal identification number (PIN) made of enzymes rather than numbers or letters has been devised by Evgeny Katz and coworkers at Clarkson University, Potsdam, N.Y. This type of biochemical network, which mimics an electronic keypad lock, could someday be used to control medical devices based on individual body chemistry (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja7114713). Another group has made this type of device before by using a synthetic pathway, but because the new system is made from biochemical components "it offers advantages in terms of biocompatibility," says molecular electronics expert Devens Gust of Arizona State University. Katz's prototype system is a sucrose solution containing a dye. The dye can be oxidized to a measurable colored output, but only after a sequence of three enzymes is added to the solution in the correct order (shown). It's too early to know whether this system might be used for releasing drugs in response to a specific sequence of biochemical events, Katz says. For now, the team is working on reconfiguring enzyme networks to process biochemical information in different ways.
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