We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
MIT's Molecular Sieve Advances Protein Research
News

MIT's Molecular Sieve Advances Protein Research

MIT's Molecular Sieve Advances Protein Research
News

MIT's Molecular Sieve Advances Protein Research

Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "MIT's Molecular Sieve Advances Protein Research"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced that MIT technology promises to speed up the accurate sorting of proteins, work that may ultimately aid in the detection and treatment of disease.

The Institute claims that, the molecular sieve developed by MIT engineers is precise than conventional methods and has the potential to be much faster.

The team's results appear in recent issues of Physical Review Letters, the Virtual Journal of Biological Physical Research and the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology.

The key to the molecular sieve, which is made using microfabrication technology, is the uniform size of the nanopores through which proteins are separated from biological fluids.

Millions of pores can be spread across a microchip the size of a thumbnail. The sieve makes it possible to screen proteins by specific size and shape.

"No one has been able to measure the gel pore sizes accurately," said Jongyoon Han, the Karl Van Tassel Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT.

"With our nanopore system, we control the pore size precisely, so we can control the sieving process of the protein molecules."

That, in turn, means proteins can be separated more efficiently, which should help scientists learn more about these crucial molecules, said Han.

Han and his team have devised a sieve that is embedded into a silicon chip. A biological sample containing proteins is put through the sieve for separation.

The sieving process is based on a theoretical model known as the Ogston sieving mechanism.

In the model, proteins move through deep and shallow regions that act together to form energy barriers. These barriers separate proteins by size.

The smaller proteins go through quickly, followed by increasingly larger proteins, with the largest passing through last.

Once the proteins are separated, scientists can isolate and capture the proteins of interest.

These include the "biomarker" proteins that are present when the body has a disease.

By studying changes in these biomarkers, researchers can identify disease early on, even before symptoms show up, and potentially develop treatments.

To date, the Ogston sieving model has been used to explain gel electrophoresis, even though no one has been able to unequivocally confirm this model in gel-based experiments.

The MIT researchers were, however, able to confirm Ogston sieving in the nanopore sieves.

"This is the first time anyone was able to experimentally confirm this theoretical idea behind molecular sieving, which has been used for more than 50 years," Han said.

"We can precisely control the pore size, so we can do better engineering. We can change the pore shape and engineer a better separation system."

The sieve structure is based on work Han did earlier at Cornell University with large strands of DNA.

The performance of the researchers' current one-dimensional sieves matches the speed of one-dimensional gels, but Han said the sieve's performance can be improved greatly.

"This device can replace gels and give us an ideal physical platform to investigate Ogston sieving," Fu said.

The sieves also potentially could be used to replace 2D gels in the process of discovering disease biomarkers, as well as to learn more about disease.

Advertisement