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Berkeley researchers lay groundwork for cell version of DNA chip

A new technique in which single strands of synthetic DNA are used to firmly fasten biological cells to non-biological surfaces has been developed by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley. This technique holds promise for a wide variety of applications, including biosensors, drug-screening technologies, the growing of artificial tissues and the design of neural networks.

"Just as DNA chips revolutionized genome analysis, we hope to make cell chips (self-assembled arrays of cells on a thumbnail-sized chip) using our DNA-based cell adhesion strategy," said Ravi Chandra, a researcher affiliated with Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division and UC Berkeley's Chemistry Department. "Cell chips could be used as biosensors for detecting the presence of pathogens, or for drug screening, just to name of a few of the many possibilities."

Chandra is the lead author of a paper that appears in the latest issue of the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie. The other authors are Erik Douglas, Richard Mathies, Carolyn Bertozzi and Matthew Francis. The paper is entitled: Programmable Cell Adhesion Encoded by DNA Hybridization.

Many of the vast assortment of biological cells are naturally sticky, a property that enables individual cells to adhere to other cells and non-cellular components, which in turn enables them to assemble into different types of tissue, or carry out functions critical to an organism's health and well-being. Cell adhesion is now being used to incorporate biological cells into simple devices, but is expected to be important for the future production of complex nanotechnology devices.

To date, researchers have been attaching cells to surfaces using the array of cell adhesion proteins that Nature has provided, especially the proteins known as integrins. A surface will be laid out in a desired pattern with chemical handles called "lig
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
7-Feb-2006


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