Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prion fingerprints detected with glowing molecule

20.11.2007
An effective and sensitive new method for detecting and characterizing prions, the infectious compounds behind diseases like mad cow disease, is now being launched by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden, among other institutions.

Mad cow disease (BSE), which has caused the death of more than 200,000 cattle and 165 people in the U.K., has now abated. But other prion disorders are on the rise, and there is concern that new strains will infect humans. Prions are not readily transmittable from species to species, but once they have broken through the species barrier they can rapidly adapt and become contagious within the species. Intensive work is now underway to find new, more sensitive methods for detecting these potentially deadly protein structures and distinguish between various strains.

The method now being presented in the journal Nature Methods is based on a fluorescent molecule, a so-called conjugated polymer, which was developed at Linköping University.

The research team infected genetically identical laboratory mice with BSE, scrapie (which afflicts sheep), and CWD (chronic wasting disease or "mad elk disease," which is epidemic in the central U.S.) for several generations in a row. Gradually new strains of prions emerge, making the diseases more fatal to the mice. Tissue samples from mice were examined using the fluorescent molecule, which seeks out and binds with prions. This is signaled by a shift in color. By tweaking the molecule, the team has been able to get it to show different colors depending on the structure of the prion­each prion strain emits its own optical fingerprint.

... more about:
»Prion »method

This is an important difference compared with other techniques used to find prions, such as antibodies and the well-known stain Congo red.

The technique has also proven to work well on tissue sections from dead animals, such as cows infected with BSE. Now the scientists want to move on and look for alternative sample-taking methods for diagnosing and tracking prion diseases in humans in early stages.

The method would then be useful for screening blood products, since there is a risk that people can be carriers of prions without having any symptoms of disease. In the U.K. it was discovered that 66 people had received blood from blood donors who were infected with the human form of BSE (a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease, vCJD), and among them, four individuals have been shown to be infected (source: Health Protection Agency, Jan. 2007).

"Using our methods, we can directly see the structure of the prions and thereby deduce the disease," says Peter Nilsson, one of the lead authors of the article. Nilsson developed the technique as a doctoral student at Linköping University and now, as a post-doctoral fellow with Professor Adrian Aguzzi's research team in Zürich, has been applying the technology to prion diseases. After New Year's he will assume a post-doc position at Linköping.

"For us researchers it is truly exciting to use this technique to understand more about both prions and other defectively folded proteins that give rise to similar disorders, such as Alzheimer's," says Peter Hammarström, co-author and research director of the prion laboratory at Linköping.

Another co-author is Kurt Wüthrich, the 2002 Nobel laureate in chemistry.

The article "Prion strain discrimination using luminescent conjugated polymers" by Christina J Sigurdson, K Peter R Nilsson, Simone Hornemann, Guiseppe Manco, Magdalini Polymenidou, Petra Schwartz, Mario Leclerc, Per Hammarström, Kurt Wüthrich, and Adriano Aguzzi was published in Nature Methods online on November 18 and will appear in the December issue of the printed journal.

Contact: Peter Nilsson, phone: +41 44 2553428, petni@ifm.liu.se
Per Hammarström, phone: +46 (0)13 285690, perha@ifm.liu.se
Pressofficer Åke Hjelm; +46-13 281395;ake.hjelm@liu.se

Åke Hjelm | idw
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmeth1131.html
http://www.vr.se

Further reports about: Prion method

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>