Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Trojan Horses, xenon imaging and remote controlled genes

25.08.2004


Chemical cages deliver drugs and peer into cells


Trojan Horse ferritin



As our understanding of biology increases, the tools of research become almost as important as the researchers wielding them. Currently, one of the major obstacles to research is actually getting inside of cells and tissue to see what is going on as it happens.

At the University of Pennsylvania, researchers are caging molecules – xenon, gene-blocking strands of antisense DNA and even therapeutics – to facilitate their entry into cells and enable researchers to observe nature’s biochemical clockwork.


Ivan Dmochowski, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Chemistry, details the methods that his lab is developing for the next generation of imaging, today at 9:30 a.m. at the American Chemical Society’s 228th National Meeting here.

"We are developing techniques to control and study biomolecules within cells and living systems," Dmochowski said. "The most immediate payoff from this research will be in figuring out how proteins interact in real time inside living organisms as well as how diseases, especially cancer, progress through the body."

Xenon-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging

While magnetic resonance imaging has already become a useful tool for research, Penn chemists hope to greatly extend the capabilities of MRI for monitoring multiple cancer markers simultaneously using the noble gas xenon as an imaging agent. By encapsulating a single atom of xenon within a cage made of cryptophane, it can become a sensitive reporter of changes outside the cage. When the cage is "rattled" by a specific cancer protein, for example, the xenon molecule will emit a telltale signal that can be tracked by MRI.

"Based on this principle, our lab is generating new biosensors that we hope will identify biomarkers associated with cancers of the lungs, brain and pancreas," Dmochowski said. "Over time, we’ll be able to use MRI to detect aberrant proteins that cause cancer in humans before the actual formation of a tumor."

"Trojan Horse" Proteins

Dmochowski and his colleagues are also exploring the use of ferritin, a large family of iron storage proteins that are integral to life, to smuggle items into cells. Since ferritin can move relatively easily into cells, the researchers are developing "greasy" ferritin-like cages that could be used for ferrying materials throughout the body. The protein cages have many interesting applications, including new agents for drug delivery, templates for forming metal nanoparticles and chemical probes for use in in vivo spectroscopic studies.

A Light Switch for Turning Off Genes

In order to understand the role of certain genes in embryonic development, the Dmochowski lab is studying how to use light to turn genes off. They have created caged antisense molecules – stretches of DNA that can clamp on top of working genes – that are released when their chemical cage is hit by ultraviolet or infrared light.

"By uncaging these molecules, our goal is to alter protein expression within a particular cell and at a particular time during development," Dmochowski said. "It means that researchers could turn specific genes off like a switch in order to find out the nature of a gene by what happens when it does not work."

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Guardians of the Gate

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>