Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technique for testing drugs to treat cystic fibrosis and epilepsy

27.11.2013
Researchers from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal, have developed a new microsystem for more efficient testing of pharmaceutical drugs to treat diseases such as cystic fibrosis, MG (myasthenia gravis) and epilepsy.

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!
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>