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 Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>