A large percentage of pharmaceutical drugs target ion channels, which are proteins found in a cell's membrane, that play a pivotal role in these serious disorders and that are used to test the effectiveness of new drugs.
Ion channels create tiny openings in the membrane for specific ions (atoms that are positively or negatively charged) to pass through.
Currently researchers use electrophysiology, which measures an electric current through ion channel proteins, to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs on ion channels.
However, this can be a slow and expensive process as it is typically carried out using ion channels in living cell membranes.
Now, Southampton researchers have been able to produce an ion channel without using cells, which is possible with so-called cell-free expression mixtures, and to insert the channels in a stable artificial cell membrane which should enable faster, less expensive drug testing. The key is that the cell-free expression mixture, which is known to destabilise these membranes, can actually help with incorporating the produced channels into a membrane between two microdroplets.
This combination of molecular biology and microtechnology transformed the conventional multi-day, multi-step single ion-channel electrophysiology method into a quick and economical process.
"By putting the ion channel into an artificial membrane, we only have one type of channel, no living cells and a relatively inexpensive method for testing for several of these types of channels at once," says lead author of the study Dr Maurits de Planque of the Nano Research Group in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.
"Researchers have experimented with cell-free mixtures before, but they found that this method was not economical due to the amount of expensive biochemicals required," adds Dr de Planque. "Our proposal to develop a new platform, which uses a couple of microlitres instead of millilitres, will be a very cost-effective way of doing this, particularly when the produced channel is directly inserted in a membrane for drug testing."
Study co-author, Biological Sciences lecturer Dr Philip Williamson, from the University's Institute for Life Sciences, says: "This new technology opens up avenues for drug screening, identifying new leads and identifying off target effects. Off target effects are a major complication in the development of new drugs, and many are withdrawn from late stage clinical trials due to cardiotoxic effects arising from the inhibition of the hERG voltage gated ion channel in the heart. The hERG channel coordinates cardiac rhythm and the availability of cheap and reliable assays to identify these interactions early will help streamline the drug discovery process."
The study 'Single-channel electrophysiology of cell-free expressed ion channels by direct incorporation in lipid bilayers', which appears in the RSC journal Analyst, is in collaboration with biological scientists in the University's Institute for Life Sciences.
The research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Glenn Harris | EurekAlert!
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Statistics