A new laboratory method for quickly detecting active anthrax proteins within an infected blood sample at extremely low levels has been developed by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute.
A computer model shows side and top views of two different proteins produced by anthrax bacteria. The green molecule is "protective antigen" (PA), which spontaneously forms pores that penetrate organic membranes such as cell walls. The yellow molecule is "lethal factor (LF)." When a voltage is applied across a membrane studded with PA pores, both positive and negative ions flow through. Once LF binds to the pore, however, current only flows in one direction. Image credit: T. Nguyen, National Cancer Institute
Current detection methods rely on injecting live animals or cell cultures with samples for analysis and require up to several days before results are available. Described* in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the new method produces unambiguous results in about an hour. The researchers hope the system will ultimately be useful in developing fast, reliable ways to diagnose anthrax infections or to quickly screen large numbers of drugs as possible therapies for blocking the bacterias toxic effects.
The method works by detecting changes in current flow when anthrax proteins are present in a solution. An anthrax protein ironically called "protective antigen" spontaneously forms nanometer-scale pores that penetrate the surface of an organic membrane. When a voltage is applied across the membrane, positively and negatively charged ions flow freely in both directions through the pore. When additional anthrax proteins called lethal factor (LF) or edema factor (EF) are present, however, the proteins bind to the outside of the pore and shut down the flow of ions in one direction. This change in current flow depends on the concentration of the proteins in the solution and can detect amounts as low as 10 picomolar (trillionths of a mole).
Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Show me your leaves - Health check for urban trees
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
12.12.2017 | Universität Basel
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
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,...
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...
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...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
12.12.2017 | Life Sciences