Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Chips are down as Manchester makes protein scanning breakthrough

Scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a new and fast method for making biological ‘chips’ – technology that could lead to quick testing for serious diseases, fast detection of MRSA infections and rapid discovery of new drugs.

Researchers working at the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) and The School of Chemistry have unveiled a new technique for producing functional ‘protein chips’ in a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), published online today (22 August 2008).

Protein chips – or ‘protein arrays’ as they are more commonly known – are objects such as slides that have proteins attached to them and allow important scientific data about the behaviour of proteins to be gathered.

Functional protein arrays could give scientists the ability to run tests on tens of thousands of different proteins simultaneously, observing how they interact with cells, other proteins, DNA and drugs.

As proteins can be placed and located precisely on a ‘chip’, it would be possible to scan large numbers of them at the same time but then isolate the data relating to individual proteins.

These chips would allow large amounts of data to be generated with the minimum use of materials – especially rare proteins that are only available in very small amounts.

The Manchester team of Dr Lu Shin Wong, Dr Jenny Thirlway and Prof Jason Micklefield say the technical challenges of attaching proteins in a reliable way have previously held back the widespread application and development of protein chips.

Existing techniques for attaching proteins often results in them becoming fixed in random orientations, which can cause them to become damaged and inactive.

Current methods also require proteins to be purified first – and this means that creating large and powerful protein arrays would be hugely costly in terms of time, manpower and money.

Now researchers at The University of Manchester say they have found a reliable new way of attaching active proteins to a chip.

Biological chemists have engineered modified proteins with a special tag, which makes the protein attach to a surface in a highly specified way and ensures it remains functional.

The attachment occurs in a single step in just a few hours – unlike with existing techniques – and requires no prior chemical modification of the protein of interest or additional chemical steps.

Prof Jason Micklefield from the School of Chemistry, said: “DNA chips have revolutionised biological and medical science. For many years scientists have tried to develop similar protein chips but technical difficulties associated with attaching large numbers of proteins to surfaces have prevented their widespread application.

“The method we have developed could have profound applications in the diagnosis of disease, screening of new drugs and in the detection of bacteria, pollutants, toxins and other molecules.”

Researchers from The University of Manchester are currently working as part of a consortium of several universities on a £3.1 million project which is aiming to develop so-called ‘nanoarrays’.

These would be much smaller than existing ‘micro arrays’ and would allow thousands more protein samples to be placed on a single ‘chip’, reducing cost and vastly increasing the volume of data that could be simultaneously collected.

This project, which involves the universities of Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and Glasgow, is being supported by Research Councils UK (RCUK), the umbrella body for academic research funding in the UK.

Jon Keighren | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>