Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New technique paves way for medical discoveries

Researchers have previously been able to analyse which sugar structures are to be found on certain proteins, but not exactly where on the protein they are positioned. This is now possible thanks to a new technique developed at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The technique entails preparing samples in a new way and is a development of applied mass spectrometry. Presented in the latest issue of renowned journal Nature Methods, the technique will enable medical researchers to study the mechanisms behind diseases in more detail and, with luck, find new ways of treating them.

"When we developed the method, we were analysing cerebrospinal fluid from healthy subjects and could see that many proteins had sugar structures previously unknown to us," says Jonas Nilsson, a researcher at the Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy. "We know that some of these proteins play a role in diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, and now it's possible to study whether faults in these sugar structures are responsible for the development of the disease."

There are more than 20,000 proteins in the human body. These proteins ensure that the instructions from the genes are carried out. Around half of them have sugar structures on their surface consisting of chains of sugar molecules. These sugar structures mean that the protein can be recognised by other proteins. Some of these structures can act as a locking mechanism when proteins bind to cells and other proteins. Sugar structures are also found on the surface of cells, where they determine, among other things, which blood group we belong to.

"Sugar structures often play an important role in how a cell or protein functions and how it affects different systems in the body," says Nilsson. "Being able to study them in more detail is a major step forward for biomedical research."

The chains of sugars in these structures are attached to the proteins at only one end. The new technique entails attaching a plastic bead to the loose end of these chains and separating the sugared proteins from those that do not have sugar structures. The proteins are then chopped into pieces and the sugar chain is released from the plastic bead, leaving the sugar chain attached to a chunk of protein known as a peptide. The researchers can then study the sugar structure on the peptide and see which protein the peptide belonged to and where on the protein it sat.

Mass spectrometry is an analytical method which can be used to determine the mass of positive or negative ions. The method can also be used to identify large molecules such as proteins and measure how much of a particular protein a sample contains. Mass spectrometry has been developed over a period of almost a century and is now one of the most important analytical techniques in modern biomedical research.
For more information, please contact:
Jonas Nilsson, researcher, tel: +46 31 342 22 174, mobile: +46 70 838 09 94, e-mail
Journal: Nature Methods
Title of article: Enrichment of Glycopeptides for Glycan Structure and Attachment Site Identification

Authors: Jonas Nilsson, Ulla Rüetschi, Adnan Halim, Camilla Hesse, Elisabet Carlsohn, Gunnar Brinkmalm and Göran Larson

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>