A flow injection competitive assay analogous to enzyme immunoassays has been developed using a molecularly imprinted polymer instead of the antibody. A glass capillary was modified by covalently attaching an imprinted polymer to the inner capillary wall. The herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid was used as a model analyte. The analyte was labeled with tobacco peroxidase, and chemiluminescence was used for detection in combination with a photomultiplier tube or a CCD camera. In a competitive mode, the analyte-peroxidase conjugate was passed together with the free analyte through the polymer-coated capillary mounted in a flow system. After a washing step, the chemiluminescent substrate was injected and the bound fraction of the conjugate was quantified by measuring the intensity of the emitted light. Calibration curves corresponding to analyte concentrations ranging from 0.5 ng mL(-1) to 50 microg mL(-1) (2.25 nM-225 microM) were obtained. A lowered detection limit by 2 orders of magnitude was obtained when detection was done in discontinuous mode and the chemiluminescence light was conducted inside the photomultiplier tube by an optical fiber bundle, thus yielding a dynamic range of 5 pg mL(-1)-100 ng mL(-1) (22.5 pM-450 nM).
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