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Technique monitors thousands of molecules simultaneously

ip. In this way, a wide variety of molecules can be generated and then probed for their biological behavior in real-time," said Moeller. "It's a tool, still being developed, to map receptors. We're right at the cusp of things."

Moeller published on the technology in a recent article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 28 16020, 2006. He will discuss the work at the 211th National Meeting of the Electrochemistry Society in Chicago, May 7, 2007. The National Science Foundation and the CombiMatrix Corp. in Seattle fund the work.

The Great Wall of China syndrome

Moeller said that the standard problem for synthetic organic chemists has typically been a structural one ?how do we build molecules having novel structures?

"We've worked very hard to develop new chemical reactions that allow us to make new structures that are either difficult or impossible to make with the synthetic tools available," he said. "But now for the first time it's not just a matter of structure, but rather a matter of location and scale ?a logistical problem."

He offered the Great Wall of China as an example of a classic logistics problem ?the structure itself was simple, but getting the tools and manpower necessary for the task to the remote regions it was built in on the scale necessary was "a logistical nightmare."

Getting 12,000 electrodes per square centimeter to selectively do your chemical bidding is Moeller's logistical nightmare. How do you get chemical reactions to happen at just one of the electrodes? Here's how he and his colleagues addressed it.

Scientists at CombiMatrix initially pioneered an approach for covering the chip with a polymer, attaching a substrate to the polymer right above the electrode, and then using the electrode to initiate a chemical reaction that modified the substrate and converted it into a product. Putting a confining agent into the solution destroys the reagent made, keeping
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Source:Washington University in St. Louis


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