Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genes linked to cancer could be easier to detect with liquid lasers

01.02.2012
Using a liquid laser, University of Michigan researchers have developed a better way to detect the slight genetic mutations that might predispose a person to a particular type of cancer or other diseases.
Their results are published in the current edition of the German journal Angewandte Chemie.

This work could advance understanding of the genetic basis of diseases. It also has applications in personalized medicine, which aims to target drugs and other therapies to individual patients based on a thorough knowledge of their genetic information.

The researchers say their technique works much better than the current approach, which uses fluorescent dye and other biological molecules to find and bind to mutated DNA strands. When a patrol molecule catches one of these rogues, it emits a fluorescent beacon. This might sound like a solid system, but it's not perfect. The patrol molecules tend to bind to healthy DNA as well, giving off a background glow that is only slightly dimmer than a positive signal.

"Sometimes, we can fail to see the difference," said Xudong Fan, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and principal investigator on the project. "If you cannot see the difference in signals, you could misdiagnose. The patient may have the mutated gene, but you wouldn't detect it."

Researchers have developed a highly sensitive technique based on laser emission for differentiating a target DNA strand from strands that contain single base mismatches. Laser emission is used to amplify the small difference in signals that are generated by the different strands after they bind with a molecular beacon. The conversion is similar to analog-to-digital. Image: Christopher BurkeIn the conventional fluorescence technique, the signal from mutated DNA might be only a few tenths of a percent higher than the background noise. With Fan's new approach it's hundreds of times brighter.

"We found a clever way to amplify the intrinsic difference in the signals," Fan said.

He did it with a bit of backtracking.

Liquid lasers, discovered in the late '60s, amplify light by passing it through a dye, rather than a crystal, as solid-state lasers do. Fan, who works at the intersection of biomedical engineering and photonics, has been developing them for the past five years. In his unique set-up, the signal is amplified in a glass capillary called a "ring resonator cavity."

Last year, Fan and his research group found that they could employ DNA (the blueprints for life that reside in all cells) to modulate a liquid laser, or turn it on and off. His group is one of just a few in the world to accomplish this, Fan said. At the time, they didn't have a practical application in mind. Then they had an epiphany.

"We thought, 'Let's look at the laser output. Can we see what's causing the different outputs and use it to detect differences in the DNA?'" Fan said. "I had an intuition, and it turns out the output difference was huge."

The journal editors named this a "hot paper" that "advances knowledge in a rapidly evolving field of high current interest."

The paper is titled "Distinguishing DNA by Analog-to-Digital-like Conversion by Using Optofluidic Lasers." The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. The first author is Yuze Sun, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At more than $130 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Michigan Engineering's premier scholarship, international scale and multidisciplinary scope combine to create The Michigan Difference.

Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.engin.umich.edu

Further reports about: Biomedical DNA DNA strand Gates Foundation genes laser system

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Chip-based optical sensor detects cancer biomarker in urine
05.12.2019 | The Optical Society

nachricht Scientist identify new marker for insecticide resistance in malaria mosquitoes
05.12.2019 | Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The coldest reaction

With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction

The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...

Im Focus: How do scars form? Fascia function as a repository of mobile scar tissue

Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.

Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds

Im Focus: McMaster researcher warns plastic pollution in Great Lakes growing concern to ecosystem

Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.

In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...

Im Focus: Machine learning microscope adapts lighting to improve diagnosis

Prototype microscope teaches itself the best illumination settings for diagnosing malaria

Engineers at Duke University have developed a microscope that adapts its lighting angles, colors and patterns while teaching itself the optimal...

Im Focus: Small particles, big effects: How graphene nanoparticles improve the resolution of microscopes

Conventional light microscopes cannot distinguish structures when they are separated by a distance smaller than, roughly, the wavelength of light. Superresolution microscopy, developed since the 1980s, lifts this limitation, using fluorescent moieties. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have now discovered that graphene nano-molecules can be used to improve this microscopy technique. These graphene nano-molecules offer a number of substantial advantages over the materials previously used, making superresolution microscopy even more versatile.

Microscopy is an important investigation method, in physics, biology, medicine, and many other sciences. However, it has one disadvantage: its resolution is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Detailed insight into stressed cells

05.12.2019 | Life Sciences

State of 'hibernation' keeps haematopoietic stem cells young - Niches in the bone marrow protect from ageing

05.12.2019 | Life Sciences

First field measurements of laughing gas isotopes

05.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>