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Measuring drug kinetics using quantum sensing

Kelvin Mpofu,1, Mark Tame, 2

1 University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
2 Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The estimation of kinetic parameters is an important technique in biochemical research, as it enables researchers to understand how pathogens, such as viruses, interact with other entities like antibodies and trial drugs. Plasmonic sensors are widely used in industry for studying biochemical interactions due to their high sensitivity, specificity and reliability. However, the statistical nature of the light used in plasmonic sensors, i.e. laser light, means that the precision in the measurements performed is reaching a fundamental limit known as the ‘shot-noise limit’. A better precision can be achieved by using quantum sensing techniques, where the light source is replaced with quantum states, such as single photons and squeezed light. Measurements can then be tailored to exploit the quantum effects in these states. We review recent progress on this and give an example of measuring the interaction kinetics of the drug (inhibitor) nelfinavir with HIV-1 protease – an enzyme that is essential for the life-cycle of HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS. Measuring kinetic parameters is important in this context as they can be used in the design of optimal inhibitors. Moreover, gaining a high precision in the estimate of the kinetic values is essential for comparing the effectiveness of the different types of inhibitors.


Mark Tame
Stellenbosch University
South Africa


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