Peptide biosensors for anticancer drugs: Design in silico to work in denaturizing environment

Filomena Guida, Anna Battisti, Ivan Gladich, Mauro Buzzo, Elena Marangon, Luciana Giodini, Giuseppe Toffoli, Alessandro Laio, Federico Berti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


One of the main targets in current clinical oncology is the development of a cheap device capable of monitoring in real-time the concentration of a drug in the blood of a patient. This would allow fine-tuning the dosage according to the patient's metabolism, a key condition to reduce side effects. By using surface plasmon resonance and fluorescence spectroscopy we here show that short peptides designed in silico by a recently developed algorithm are capable of binding the anticancer drug irinotecan (CPT-11) with micromolar affinity. Importantly, the recognition takes place in the denaturating solution used in standard therapeutic drug monitoring to detach the drug from the proteins that are present in human plasma, and some of the peptides are capable of distinguishing CPT-11 from its metabolite SN-38. These results suggest that the in silico design of small artificial peptides is now a viable route for designing sensing units, opening a wide range of applications in diagnostic and clinical areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-303
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018



  • Drug monitoring
  • In silico design
  • Irinotecan
  • Peptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry

Cite this

Guida, F., Battisti, A., Gladich, I., Buzzo, M., Marangon, E., Giodini, L., Toffoli, G., Laio, A., & Berti, F. (2018). Peptide biosensors for anticancer drugs: Design in silico to work in denaturizing environment. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 100, 298-303.