Navigation Links
Research at Marshall University may lead to new ways to transport and manipulate molecules

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. A group of Marshall University researchers and their colleagues in Japan are conducting research that may lead to new ways to move or position single moleculesa necessary step if man someday hopes to build molecular machines or other devices capable of working at very small scales.

Dr. Eric Blough, a member of the research team and an associate professor in Marshall University's Department of Biological Sciences, said his group has shown how bionanomotors can be used some day to move and manipulate molecules at the nanoscale.

Their research will be published in the Feb. 5 issue of the research journal Small.

"Being able to manipulate a single molecule under controlled conditions is actually a pretty big challenge," said Blough. "It's not quite the same, but imagine trying to pick up a single sewing needle off the ground with a huge steam shovel, and doing it so that you pick up the needle and nothing else. Or, to put it another wayhow do you manipulate something that is very tiny with something that is very big? We decided to try and get around this problem by seeing if it was possible to use single molecules to move other single molecules."

"What we are trying to replicate in the lab is something that nature has been doing for millions of yearscells use bionanomotors all the time to move things around," he said.

Blough describes bionanomotors as naturally occurring tiny "machines" that convert chemical energy directly into mechanical work. A nanometer is about 1/100,000 the width of a human hair. A nanomotor is similarly sized and operates at the smallest of small scales.

"Our muscles are living proof of how bionanomotors can be harnessed to do useful work," he added.

In the lab, Blough and his colleagues used myosina protein found in muscle that is responsible for generating the force of muscle contractionas the motor, and actinanother protein isolated from muscleas the carrier.

Using a technique to make a pattern of active myosin molecules on a surface, they showed how cargothey used small beadscould be attached to actin filaments and moved from one part of the surface to another. To improve the system, they also used actin filaments they had bundled together.

"When we first started our work, we noticed that single actin filaments moved randomly," said Dr. Hideyo Takatsuki, lead author of the journal article and a postdoctoral fellow in Blough's laboratory. "To be able to transport something from point A to point B effectively you need to be able to have some control over the movement. The actin filaments are so flexible that it is difficult to control their motion but we found that if we bundled a bunch of them together, the movement of the filaments was almost straight."

In addition, the team also showed they could use light to control the movement of the filaments.

"For a transport system to work efficiently, you really need to have the ability to stop the carrier to pick up cargo, as well as the means to stop transport when you arrive at your destination," added Takatsuki.

To control the movement, they chose to exploit the chemical properties of another molecule called blebbistatin.

"Blebbistatin is an inhibitor of myosin and can be switched on and off by light," Blough said. "We found that we could stop and start movement by changing how the system was illuminated."

According to Blough, the long-range goal of the team's work is to develop a platform for the development of a wide range of nanoscale transport and sensing applications in the biomedical field.

"The promise of nanotechnology is immense," he said. "Someday it might be possible to perform diagnostic tests using incredibly small amounts of sample that can be run in a very short period of time and with a high degree of accuracy. The implications for improving human health are incredible."

Blough added that although their recent work is a step forward, there is still a long way to go.

"A number of further advancements are necessary before bionanomotors can be used for 'lab-on-a-chip' applications," he said. "It's a challenging problem, but that is one of the great things about scienceevery day is new and interesting."


Contact: Ginny Painter
Marshall University Research Corporation

Related biology news :

1. Ability to navigate may be linked to genes, researcher says
2. Scripps Research scientists create new way to screen libraries of 10 million or more compounds
3. MSU researcher identifies cell mechanism leading to diabetic blindness
4. Boston University School of Medicine researcher awarded the 2010 Avanti Award in Lipids
5. Case Western Reserve University works with Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. on research grant
6. National Jewish Health researchers discover how virulent bacteria
7. Epigenetics could help researchers determine any risks associated with low-dose radiation
8. University of the Basque Country researchers decode transcriptome for gray mullet
9. Advances in cancer detection research by Virginia Tech engineer featured in British magazine
10. Research breakthrough could lead to new treatment for malaria
11. IRSF announces translational research award funding to test potential therapeutics for Rett syndrome
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Research at Marshall University may lead to new ways to transport and manipulate molecules
(Date:5/9/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, May 9, 2016 ... choice when it comes to expanding freedom for high ... Even in today,s globally connected world, there ... online conferencing system could ever duplicate sealing your deal ... are obtaining second passports by taking advantage of citizenship ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , ... Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary ... Onegini today announced a partnership to integrate the ...      (Logo: ) ... provide their customers enhanced security to access and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , ... tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , a precision ... million in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). ... and to advance its drug development efforts, as well ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner ... a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new ... in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast ... results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 ... , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew ... escalating cost of cancer care is placing an ... result of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents ...
Breaking Biology Technology: