A new technique has been presented by researchers from the Universities of Dresden and Leipzig for hormonally detecting active substances present in water, cosmetics and food.
The study was published in the journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics.
Hormonally active substances can lead to serious health issues, such as prostate and breast cancer, neurological and mental illnesses and thyroid disorders. A quick and easy analytical technique for risk assessment of food and products is thus an essential tool for the health and safety of consumers.
These substances are almost present everywhere — in food, dishwashing detergent, cosmetic products, washing powder, in medicines as well as in waste and drinking water: hormonally active compounds like synthetic estrogen derivatives, which are the primary ingredient in hormonal contraceptives, or the so-called “bulk chemical” bisphenol A (BPA), which is utilized, for instance, in food cans or beverage bottles. Its detrimental effects on humans and the environment have long been established.
But simple detection of endocrine disruptors for efficient monitoring and reliable risk evaluation of products and waters seems to be a difficulty as a result of the structural diversity of the substances.
Normally, early analytical methods are based on complicated laboratory-diagnostic procedures or fall short of the required detection limits. The latest technique developed by researchers at the Universities of Dresden and Leipzig could rectify this situation and as such, a patent application has been filed.
Our method detects hormonally active compounds using immobilized sulfotransferases and microparticles and includes a kit for detecting the compounds in food, cosmetics, water samples and much more. To this end, we have implemented this enzyme of estrogen metabolism into a biosensor that serves as a ‘capture probe’ for estrogen-like compounds.
Tilo Pompe, Professor, Biophysical Chemistry, University of Leipzig
Pompe added, “Depending on the concentration of estrogen-like compounds in the detection solution, the binding of microparticles to a biochip is impaired and thus even low concentrations of hormonally active substances can be detected quickly and easily.”
In particular, I would like to point out the modularity of implementing an estrogen-metabolizing enzyme, as the approach is not limited to this specific enzyme, but also allows the use of other hormone-metabolizing or hormone-binding proteins in a multiplex assay. This could open new approaches to cover the whole complexity of evaluating hormonally active substances without animal testing.
Dr. Kai Ostermann, Institute of Genetics, Technische Universität Dresden
Rettke, D., et al. (2021) Biomimetic estrogen sensor based on soft colloidal probes. Biosensors and Bioelectronics. doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2021.113506.