Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Material from shellfish delivers a boost to bioassays and medical tests

18.07.2017

Scientists at the University of Washington have discovered a simple way to raise the accuracy of diagnostic tests for medicine and common assays for laboratory research. By adding polydopamine -- a material that was first isolated from shellfish -- to these tests at a key step, the team could increase the sensitivity of these common bioassays by as many as 100 to 1,000 times.

More sensitive tests would allow scientists to identify pathogens, diseases and specific cellular proteins even when these "biomarkers" are present at levels far below the detection threshold of today's standard tests. Initial results show polydopamine boosted the accuracy and resolution of these tests for biomarkers of HIV, Zika virus and proteins on cancerous tumors.


An artistic rendering of a virus particle (light blue, foreground) bound by brightly-colored reporter molecules in a common laboratory assay.

Credit: Junwei Li/Xiaohu Gao

"Common bioassays are the real workhorses of laboratory experiments and medical tests," said Xiaohu Gao, a UW professor of bioengineering. "By boosting the sensitivity of these tests, we can enable more accurate medical diagnoses earlier in a disease or condition, and enable more certainty and less waste in the research process."

Gao led the team that developed this simple modification for many common medical and laboratory assays. They recently published their approach -- known as enzyme-accelerated signal enhancement, or EASE -- in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

EASE centers on the simple addition of two biochemical components, dopamine and horseradish peroxidase, or HRP, at a key step. HRP is a common protein enzyme used to speed up the rate of reactions in biomedical research. Gao and his team discovered that HRP can connect dopamine molecules together to form the polymer chain polydopamine.

Polydopamine, in turn, accumulates on the surfaces of reaction vessels, such as small Petri dishes. Once the polydopamine is present, scientists can continue the traditional steps of their protocols, but now with a substantially increased test sensitivity. Gao hopes that this simple modification will mean that scientists and medical professionals can easily incorporate EASE into their common practices and procedures.

"Scientists have been trying to improve the accuracy of these common tests for decades, but solutions often involve entirely new protocols or costly pieces of equipment," said Gao. "Understandably, researchers can be reluctant to invest in unfamiliar protocols or expensive new equipment -- but EASE is a simple addition to tried-and-true assays. It's like a software upgrade, instead of changing your operating system."

These assays include some of the most common medical and laboratory tests, such as ELISA, microarrays, FISH and immunohistochemistry imaging. Some of these assays have been used for decades to help hospitals and doctors detect signatures of a disease, ailment or other conditions by looking at a patient's blood, other body fluids or cells. Depending on the test, these telltale signs could be pieces of a bacteria or virus, a chemical, antibodies made by white blood cells, a hormone or even pieces of DNA.

But if these compounds are present at extremely low levels, diagnostic tests can miss them and return inaccurate medical information. By increasing sensitivity, EASE reduces uncertainty and even increases the amount of information these tests can provide. For example, the team used EASE to detect the presence of Zika virus in the placental tissues of primates. But EASE made the assay so sensitive that they were able to see which types of cells within the placenta were infected with Zika, Gao said.

As often happens in research, Gao and his team did not originally set out to solve this problem. Polydopamine was originally isolated from mussels decades ago, and researchers already knew that the substance can react with proteins. But the only protocol they had to form polydopamine necessitated a passive, time-consuming protocol. Lead author Junwei Li, a UW doctoral student in materials science and engineering, was using this approach to coat nanoparticles with polydopamine. But Li noticed that HRP can react with dopamine to form polydopamine, and that this approach is substantially faster than existing methods to make polydopamine.

The scientists don't fully understand why adding polydopamine boosts the sensitivity of these bioassays, and future research could elucidate the mechanism. But Gao's focus is on applying EASE to even more diagnostic tests and diseases.

"EASE has potential to solve real, long-standing problems in research and medical tests," said Gao.

###

UW co-authors are pharmacology doctoral student Madison Baird; research scientists Michael Davis and Wanyi Tai; Larry Zweifel, associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Kristina Adams Waldorf, professor of obstetrics and gynecology; Michael Gale, professor of immunology; and Lakshmi Rajagopal, associate professor of pediatrics. An additional co-author is Robert Pierce with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Adams Waldorf is also a faculty member with the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, and Rajagopal is also associate professor at the Seattle Children's Research Institute. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the University of Washington and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

For more information, contact Gao at xgao@uw.edu or 206-543-6562.

Grant numbers: R21CA192985, R01AI100989, AI083019, AI104002, AI060389.

Media Contact

James Urton
jurton@uw.edu
206-543-2580

 @UW

http://www.washington.edu/news/ 

James Urton | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Zika virus dopamine polydopamine proteins shellfish

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New concept for structural colors
18.05.2018 | Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg

nachricht Saarbrücken mathematicians study the cooling of heavy plate from Dillingen
17.05.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>