Sweet! Sugar-Coated Probe Yields Better Acid Test
A new type of nontoxic fluorescent probe could make it much easier to detect low pH in living cells.
The human body is engaged in a constant tightrope walk to maintain the right pH, because when our cells’ acid-alkaline balance goes wrong, it can go wrong in a big way.
Abnormal pH—in particular, abnormally low, acid pH—is a marker for maladies ranging from cystic fibrosis, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis to cancer and Alzheimer’s. Now, Michigan Tech chemist Haiying Liu has developed new tools that could make it much easier to detect low pH in living cells. The discovery is the focus of a new study published in ACS Sensors DOI: abs/10.1021/acssensors.7b00137.
To measure pH, researchers and medical personnel use fluorescent dyes, called probes, that glow in acidic conditions when activated by fluorescent light. The probes are used for diagnostic imaging—to visualize blood vessels and the digestive tract, for example—and they can help surgeons remove diseased tissue, including tumors. However, these probes are not perfect. Read the full story.