Scientists in the United States are reporting discovery of a much-needed new method to identify the activity of destructive enzymes that have been linked to a range of diseases.
The enzymes are termed matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), because they break down protein and have a metal such as zinc or calcium in their structure.
"MMPs have been implicated in a variety of disease states, including arthritis, periodontal disease, and tumor cell invasion and metastasis," Yuehe Lin and colleagues note in a report published in the current (Sept. 27) issue of the weekly Journal of the American Chemical Society.
With MMPs offering an opportunity for diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment, several tests for the enzymes have been developed. Those tests, however, have drawbacks, including inability to identify specific MMPs that are active in specific diseases or require complicated detection schemes.
In the report, researchers describe the new test as simple and sensitive. It involves use of an electrochemical "beacon" that signals "on" or "off" when MMPs are active in a sample of tissue or body fluid.
The beacons can be configured to signal when specific MMPs are active, including enzymes associated with certain infectious diseases.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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