Implantable Nanosensors for Human Steroid Hormone Sensing In Vivo Using a Self-Templating Corona Phase Molecular Recognition
Dynamic measurements of steroid hormones in vivo are critical, but steroid sensing is currently limited by the availability of specific molecular recognition elements due to the chemical similarity of these hormones. In this work, a new, self‐templating synthetic approach is applied using corona phase molecular recognition (CoPhMoRe) targeting the steroid family of molecules to produce near infrared fluorescent, implantable sensors. A key limitation of CoPhMoRe has been its reliance on library generation for sensor screening. This problem is addressed with a self‐templating strategy of polymer design, using the examples of progesterone and cortisol sensing based on a styrene and acrylic acid copolymer library augmented with an acrylated steroid. The pendant steroid attached to the corona backbone is shown to self‐template the phase, providing a unique CoPhMoRE design strategy with high efficacy. The resulting sensors exhibit excellent stability and reversibility upon repeated analyte cycling. It is shown that molecular recognition using such constructs is viable even in vivo after sensor implantation into a murine model by employing a poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogel and porous cellulose interface to limit nonspecific absorption. The results demonstrate that CoPhMoRe templating is sufficiently robust to enable a new class of continuous, in vivo biosensors.