Bioluminescent sensor proteins for point-of-care therapeutic drug monitoring
For many drugs, finding the balance between efficacy and toxicity requires monitoring their concentrations in the patient's blood. Quantifying drug levels at the bedside or at home would have advantages in terms of therapeutic outcome and convenience, but current techniques require the setting of a diagnostic laboratory. We have developed semisynthetic bioluminescent sensors that permit precise measurements of drug concentrations in patient samples by spotting minimal volumes on paper and recording the signal using a simple point-and-shoot camera. Our sensors have a modular design consisting of a protein-based and a synthetic part and can be engineered to selectively recognize a wide range of drugs, including immunosuppressants, antiepileptics, anticancer agents and antiarrhythmics. This low-cost point-of-care method could make therapies safer, increase the convenience of doctors and patients and make therapeutic drug monitoring available in regions with poor infrastructure.