Monday 8 November 2021

Novel Aptasensors for Endotoxin Detection Are Advancing Drug Discovery


Assessing levels of endotoxin during the development of pharmaceutical products and for the assessment of patients under medical care forms an important part of the pharmaceutical and healthcare system. Depending on the product type, there are complexities involved. Bacterial endotoxin can form a stable interaction with other biomolecules thus making its removal difficult especially during the production of biopharmaceutical drugs. The detection of endotoxin (generally synonymous with lipopolysaccharide where the molecule’s lipid A moiety possesses most of the biological activity) is important for patient safety due to its pyrogenic properties and ability to trigger a form of septic shock.


In addition, endotoxin can be difficult to detect when bound with protein in the human body. This makes endotoxin testing for certain applications significantly challenging, especially for drug development and medical research, such as screening patients with severe sepsis and septic shock.



To meet this challenge, innovations in endotoxin testing are being developed in the form of biosensor technology. The most promising of these is a form of electrochemical aptasensor2 which detects endotoxin through voltammetric determination of lipopolysaccharide. Aptamers show great affinity toward their target analytes, such as with endotoxin. The aptamer recognizes the molecular target against which it was previously in vitro selected. There are several such sensors in research use and the development phases are promising. Furthermore, these technologies have the potential to meet the requirements of ‘rapid microbiological methods’ in that they meet the criteria of good performance, accuracy, repeatability and had a shorter time-to-results. This article reviews progress in this area of endotoxin detection.


Sandle, T. (2021) Novel Aptasensors for Endotoxin Detection Are Advancing Drug Discovery, American Pharmaceutical Review, July / August 2021, pp1-3


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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