The application of electrochemical analytical techniques towards biological analytes holds great potential to improve future medical diagnostic systems; due to their associated low cost, ease of miniturisation and high accuracy. The ability of such systems has already been demonstrated with the development of the highly successful blood glucose monitor, which has vastly increased the standards of care for diabetes suffers.
DNA is the most fundamental molecule to biological life and is responsible for transfer of genetic information. The basic double helical structure of DNA was first proposed by Watson and Crick in 1953 (see figure).
During the 1990s the Human Genome Project was established with the aim of identifying all of the 20,000-25,000 genes present in human DNA. As our knowledge of how these genes affect us increases, there is an ever-growing demand for simple and reliable methods for their analysis. Just a single base alteration in a given gene can alter its function and as such lead to an increased risk of a disease. Consequently it is of great importance that any DNA biosensor created is able to differentiate between a fully complementary sequence and one in which there is a single base pair mismatch.
Work towards the development of a point of care device for DNA analysis is underway, but the production of a successful system will require an in-depth and precise understanding of the chemistry involved. Obtaining this knowledge is best approached, by directing research towards the fundamental electrochemistry involved, thereby allowing the development of a system in a 'bottom-up' manner.
The work within this group focuses primarily upon the use of DNA intercalators and the modification of nanostructured materials with these compounds, in order to create a sensitive biorecognition layer.