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Scientists develop protein nanoarrays for biological detection

EVANSTON, Ill. Scientists at Northwestern University have developed a new detection technology on the nanometer scale that could lead to the next generation of proteomic arrays and new methods for diagnosing infectious diseases.

Once optimized, the new nanotechnology holds promise for biological detectors that can yield more information more accurately in a shorter period of time. Such devices ultimately could be used in the doctors office to rapidly screen for a wide range of pathogenic diseases or in the field to detect biological weapons such as anthrax and smallpox.

A report on the protein nanoarrays was published online Feb. 7 by the journal Science at the Science Express Web site (http://www.sciencexpress.org).

Genetic and proteomic screening with so-called gene-chips and proteomic arrays are allowing researchers to peer into the genetic code of individuals and develop leads for important therapeutic agents in the pharmaceutical industry. Current technology uses arrays of either proteins or DNA on the micrometer level as screening tools for analyzing DNA, protein-protein interactions and cell biology and for drug testing. Miniaturizing these arrays could dramatically improve their capabilities.

The researchers utilize a process invented at Northwestern called Dip-Pen Nanolithography to make arrays of proteins with features more than 1,000 times smaller than those used in conventional arrays. This leads to nanoarrays with more than 1 million times the density of current commercial microarrays.

Led by Chad A. Mirkin, director of Northwesterns Institute for Nanotechnology, the research team combined expertise with Professor Milan Mrksich of the University of Chicago and his group and also showed that the novel arrays could be used to study important biological processes, such as cell adhesion. This involves discovering and then writing a pattern of proteins that attracts a particu
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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
7-Feb-2002


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