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UCSD scientists develop novel way to screen molecules

Chemists at the University of California, San Diego have developed a novel method of detecting molecules with a conventional compact disk player that provides scientists with an inexpensive way to screen for molecular interactions and a potentially cheaper alternative to medical diagnostic tests.

A paper detailing their development will appear this week in an advance on-line edition of the journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry (http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=b306391G) and in the printed journal's September 21st issue.

"Our immediate goal is to use this new technology to solve basic scientific questions in the laboratory," says Michael Burkart, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD and a coauthor of the paper. "But our eventual hope is that there will be many other applications. Our intention is to make this new development as widely available as possible and to see where others take the technology."

Burkart and James La Clair, a visiting scholar in Burkart's laboratory who initially developed and patented the technique, said that since scientific laboratories often rely on laser light to detect molecules, it made sense to them to design a way to detect molecules using the most ubiquitous laser on the planet--the CD player.

"The CD is by far the most common media format in our society on which to store and read information," says La Clair. "It's portable, you can drop it on the floor and it doesn't break. It's easy to mass produce. And it's inexpensive."

Their technique takes advantage of the tendency for anything adhering to the CD surface to interfere with a laser's ability to read digital data burned onto the CD. "We developed a method to identify biological interactions using traditional compact disk technology," explains La Clair, who provided the patent rights to the method to UCSD. "Using inkjet printing to attach molecules to the surface
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Contact: Sherry Seethaler
sseethaler@ucsd.edu
858-534-4656
University of California - San Diego
18-Aug-2003


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