What are the applications of molecularly imprinted polymers?

The MIP Discovery Video Series gives an introduction to Molecularly Imprinted Polymers, explaining what they are, how they are made and their applications in medical diagnostics and healthcare. In the second instalment of the series, Marketing Manager, Keli Stockbridge, discusses some of the applications of MIPs including, their use as an antibody alternative in in-vitro diagnostics, as drug delivery systems and their use in chromatographic separations.


Video Transcript

Hi, welcome to the MIP Discovery video series. I am Keli Stockbridge, Marketing Manager at MIP Diagnostics, and today I am going to be talking to you about the applications of molecularly imprinted polymers, commonly referred to as MIPs.

Now MIPs are a very unique types of polymer, and that’s  because they are formed around a molecule of interest, which is later washed away to leave a binding pocket that has the same size, shape, and chemical surface functionalities as the molecule of interest. Now this means that when the MIP comes into contact with that molecule again, in say a serum sample or an environmental water sample for example, it will bind with a high affinity and high specificity. Its this functionality that makes MIPs very similar to antibodies, and opens up a wide variety of applications.

So MIPs have been research for almost 100 years now, which means various applications have been discovered.  One of the most obvious ones is MIPs for detection. Because they act in a very similar way to antibodies, it means they can be an alternative for detection devices such as lateral flow and ELISA, but most commonly in sensors, and that’s because MIPs are extremely robust. When a MIP comes into contact with a sensor electrode it doesn’t denature, which you can sometimes get with things like antibodies and enzymes, and this means they can adhere extremely well and it also means they get a really good surface coverage.

Another application of MIPs is for chromatographic separations, and these can be used for things like purification or removing a contaminant in a sample or sequestering a compound of interest to either concentrate it or analyze it in further detail.

One of the more recent applications of MIPs is in drug delivery systems. Now this is where a MIP is used to continually release the drug into the system to elongate its therapeutic effect, and obviously this has many applications within the healthcare industry.

So let’s take a look at some of these applications in more detail, starting off with detection. One such example of a sensor device is the Sotorius Scout COVID-19 senor. This sensor consists of a small fob which you wear on your person that you scan at readers around a building, for example a hospital a school or a care home. The sensor will pick up small particles of the COVID-19 virus and when it is scanned it will alert the user so they know to get further testing or to self-isolate.  Now this device uses a MIP that has been generated to the RBD portion of the Spike Protein of SARS-CoV-2. This device is expected for commercial launch in early 2022.

Another example of a sensor that uses MIPs is from a company called FreshAir. They have developed a device that tests for molecules in tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke. The device simply plugs in to a normal power socket and connects to the wi-fi and gives a time stamped report of when these molecules have been detected. And this has been designed for use in apartments and in hotels as well.  

Another area where molecularly imprinted polymers are used is in  chromatographic separations. Back in the 1080’s they were used to separate amino acid derivatives, and since then they have become extremely popular in HPLC and other separation techniques. One application where MIPs  have been extensively used is in the separation of chiral drugs. It is well known that chiral enantiomers can cause varying pharmaceutical effects, so it is extremely important to get a good separation. MIPs are now used as chiral stationary phases in HPLC and other chromatographic techniques.

More recently, MIPs have been identified for their use in drug delivery systems, and this is where a drug is released over a period of time to ensure maximum therapeutic effect. One such example is in a antibacterial wound dressing, which allows the release of vancomycin over a period of 24 hours to give maximum therapeutic effect.

So that’s just some of the applications of molecularly imprinted polymers and as research progresses,  we expect to see more and more emerge. Thanks for watching this video, and if you want to learn more remember to watch the rest of the videos in this series or contact us at MIP Diagnostics.