New assay for hepcidin developed
Hepcidin is a short protein that regulates iron levels in humans, and plays an important role in anaemia, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. It can be detected in blood and urine, but conventional tests are not sensitive enough for diagnosis. To create a more sensitive assay for hepcidin, the EU-funded PINP (Synthesis of peptide imprinted nanoparticles and their integration to ELISA-like assay for the quantification of hepcidin) consortium aimed to use molecular imprinting technology (MIP) to create a synthetic receptor for hepcidin. Researchers chose two key regions of the hepcidin peptide to use as a template to create this synthetic receptor. In the first part of the project they synthesised these two regions. Next, they used this template to create a MIP nanoparticle with a complementary cavity that mimics a hepcidin receptor, much like a lock-and-key system. PINP then tested the MIP nanoparticles for specificity to hepcidin and structural integrity before creating an assay around these molecules. The assay was successful in identifying hepcidin, but functioned over a very small range of concentrations. The hepcidin assay created by PINP is now ready for further development into a commercial assay. When complete, the assay will be hugely valuable in the fight against iron-related disorders.
Assay, hepcidin, iron-related disorders, molecular imprinting technology, synthetic receptor