Research Highlight

Sweet sensor for amino acid

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.367 Published online 15 January 2010

Researchers have designed a carbohydrate-derived chemosensor that can detect amino acids in biological fluids through changes in optical emissions. The sensor can sniff out very minute amounts of aromatic amino acids.

It will aid in medical diagnostics as amino acid deficiency has been linked to various physiological abnormalities.

Amino acids are building blocks of proteins that drive biological processes. This is why sensing amino acid in bio-fluids is an essential task. Existing processes are complex and not biocompatible. To devise a biocompatible and simple method, the researchers used 1-(d-glucopyranosyl-2′-deoxy-2′-iminomethyl)-2-hydroxybenzene, a carbohydrate derivative to prepare the chemosensor in a single step of condensation reaction.

In order to explore the sensitivity and selectivity of the chemosensor towards amino acids, fluorescence titrations were carried out against all 20 naturally occurring ones. Only the aromatic amino acids exhibited appreciable enhancement in the emission intensity.

The findings of the research are significant as the deficiency of amino acids has been implicated in hair depigmentation, liver damage, fat loss and skin lesions.


  1. Mitra, A. et al. 1-(d-Glucopyranosyl-2′-deoxy-2′-iminomethyl)-2-hydroxybenzene as chemosensor for aromatic amino acids by switch-on fluorescence. Tetrahedron. Lett. 51, 139-142 (2010) | Article |