Navigation Links
Astronomy technology brings nanoparticle probes into sharper focus

ATLANTA (February 19, 2008) While pondering the challenges of distinguishing one nano-sized probe image from another in a mass of hundreds or thousands of nanoprobes, researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University made an interesting observation. The tiny, clustered dots of light looked a lot like a starry sky on a clear night.

The biomedical researchers realized that astronomers had already made great strides in solving a problem very similar to their own isolating and analyzing one dot (in this case a star) in a crowded field of light. They hypothesized that a computer system designed for stellar photometry, a branch of astronomy focused on measuring the brightness of stars, could hold the solution to their problem.

Now, Georgia Tech and Emory researchers have created a technology based on stellar photometry software that provides more precise images of single molecules tagged with nanoprobes, particles specially designed to bind with a certain type of cell or molecule and illuminate when the target is found. The clearer images allow researchers to collect more detailed information about a single molecule, such as how the molecule is binding in a gene sequence, taking scientists a few steps closer to truly personalized and predictive medicine as well as more complex biomolecular structural mapping.

In addition to biomedical applications, the system could be used to clarify other types of nanoparticle probes, including tagged particles or molecules.

The research is detailed in this week's online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

As more powerful imaging technologies are developed, scientists face a real challenge to quantitatively analyze and interpret these new mountains of data, said May Wang, an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. This PNAS paper is only a start, but I expect that innovative computing and data processing will be increasingly used to reveal detailed and quantitative features not currently available to biomedical researchers.

This work is pointing to a new era in light microscopy in which single molecule detection is achieved at nanometer resolution, said Dr. Shuming Nie, a professor of biomedical engineering and chemistry and also the director of the Emory-Georgia Tech Cancer Nanotechnology Center. This is also an example of interdisciplinary research in which advanced computing meets nanotechnology. I envision major applications not only for single-molecule imaging, but also for ultrasensitive medical diagnostics.

Because scientists frequently use several different colors of nanoprobes to color code genes and proteins, a blended color dot is a common challenge when analyzing images. For every few green or red dots in an image, there could be a few yellow dots as well, indicating that at least two dots are clustering to create the appearance of a new color.

While less than precise nanoprobe images yield valuable information, the Georgia Tech and Emory research team knew that better technology was needed to pinpoint the exact distance in nanometers between probes to reveal important information about the size and binding geometry of targeted molecules.

We had no way of knowing for sure if we were looking at one molecule or two or three molecules very near one another, said Wang. The fuzzy dot images were not precise enough on the nanometer level to truly tell us how these markers reflect DNA, but this system allows us to collect quantitative data and prove not hypothesize how genes are behaving.

Instead of starting from scratch to create a system to isolate the clumped nanoprobe images, the Georgia Tech and Emory researchers pursued their stellar photometry idea by adapting DAOPHOT, a program written by Peter Stetson at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory designed to handle crowded fields of stars.

After adapting DAOPHOT, the research team used color-coded nanoparticles to beat the traditional diffraction limit by nearly two orders of magnitude, allowing routine super-resolution imaging at one nanometer resolution. And by using DNA molecules, two color-coded nanoparticles are designed to recognize two binding sites on a single target. Then the particles are brought together within nanometer distances after target binding.

These distances are sorted out by highly efficient image processing technology, leading to detection and identification of individual molecules based on the targets geometric size.

Compared to other single molecule imaging methods, the Georgia Tech and Emory system allows for higher-speed detection involving much larger sample volumes (microliter to milliliters).


Contact: Megan McRainey
Georgia Institute of Technology

Related biology news :

1. Strategy for nanotechnology-related environmental, health and safety research
2. New technology sharpens X-ray vision
3. Iridescence workshop promotes natures nanotechnology
4. Department of Energy putting power in the hands of consumers through technology
5. Bangladesh to dramatically expand technology that doubles efficiency of urea fertilizer use
6. Cheaper drugs now closer to realization with new DropArray technology
7. New report finds great potential for Swedish medical technology
8. Breakthrough technology observes synapse in real time, supporting theory of vesicular recycling
9. FDLI, PEN co-sponsor major conference on nanotechnology
10. CU-Boulder technology used to identify unexpected bacteria in cystic fibrosis patients
11. Using nanotechnology, UCLA researchers discover cancer cells feel much softer than normal cells
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... LA JOLLA, Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ... released a new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: ... how well the Department of Health and Human Services ... was issued in 2010. --> ... advances, but it also has the potential to pose ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., ... U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation products, ... Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has ... preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis ... and prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , October 29, 2015 ... biometric authentication company focused on the growing mobile ... wallet announces that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to ... featuring the Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for ... ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric authentication ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: ... that it has closed the sale of its global ... (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in a transaction valued at approximately ... facilities and a total of approximately 1,000 employees spread ... St. Louis area. This entire workforce ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 ... Research Laboratories, a leading independent and ... has formed a strategic partnership with ... Health for joint work on clinical ... ) , --> ,     ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  PharmAthene, Inc. (NYSE MKT: PIP) ... a stockholder rights plan (Rights Plan) in an effort ... carryforwards (NOLs) under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue ... PharmAthene,s use of its NOLs could be substantially ... defined in Section 382 of the Code. In general, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening ... will present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor ... PT. The presentation will be webcast live and posted ... also be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings ...
Breaking Biology Technology: