A group of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have developed a method called dynamic multiple equilibrium gradients, DMEG for short, that dramatically fine-tunes the process, allowing for a significant increase in resolution over previous methods. Potential applications include chemical, biological and biomedical sciences, as well as in environmental monitoring, biological warfare detection, drug discovery, and more.
"This method is hyperselective and we can design it to target specific analytes for separation," said Ryszard Jankowiak, an Ames Lab senior scientist. "Running multiple electric field gradients can focus and move the analytes to the detection window at precisely defined times, creating signature 'fingerprints', which minimizes the probability of false positives."
The advance makes it possible to detect the smallest traces of substances, such as the estrogen-derived conjugates and DNA adducts in human fluid samples that could serve as biomarkers in risk assessment of breast and prostate cancers. In fact, this and other technologies being developed at the Ames Laboratory biosensors and fluorescence-based imaging have been used in work with cancer researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University to identify a specific adduct in the urine of prostate and breast cancer patients, and could lead to even earlier detection or indication of cancer risk.
Unlike traditional capillary electrophoresis, Jankowiak's team, which includes Yuri Markushin and graduate student Abdulilah Dawoud, uses only low voltage, around 2kV or le
Contact: Kerry Gibson