Molecular boronic acid-based saccharide sensors

George T. Williams, Jonathan L. Kedge, John S. Fossey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

236 Downloads (Pure)


Boronic acids can reversibly bind diols, a molecular feature that is ubiquitous within saccharides, leading to their use in the design and implementation of sensors for numerous saccharide species. There is a growing understanding of the importance of saccharides in many biological processes and systems; while saccharide or carbohydrate sensing in medicine is most often associated with detection of glucose in diabetes patients, saccharides have proven to be relevant in a range of disease states. Herein the relevance of carbohydrate sensing for biomedical applications is explored, and this review seeks to outline how the complexity of saccharides presents a challenge for the development of selective sensors and describes efforts that have been made to understand the underpinning fluorescence and binding mechanisms of these systems, before outlining examples of how researchers have used this knowledge to develop ever more selective receptors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508–1528
Number of pages21
Issue number4
Early online date12 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the University of Birmingham for ongoing support. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF 2-SRA-2016-267-A-N), Cancer Research UK (CRUK Pioneer Award 26212), and the Medical Research Council (MRC Confidence in Concepts 7.1-07F) grants have supported the research efforts of the authors of this review in this review, thus informing the direction and scope of the information contained herein. Members of the JSF research group are thanked for helpful comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.


  • carbohydrate
  • fluorescence
  • electrochemical
  • colorimetric
  • diabetes
  • biomarker
  • boronic acids
  • hydrogels
  • glucose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular boronic acid-based saccharide sensors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this