Navigation Links
'Critical baby step' taken for spying life on a molecular scale
Date:5/18/2011

The ability to image single biological molecules in a living cell is something that has long eluded researchers; however, a novel technique, using the structure of diamond, may well be able to do this and potentially provide a tool for diagnosing, and eventually developing a treatment for, hard-to-cure diseases such as cancer.

In a study published today, Thursday, 19 May, in the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, researchers have developed a technique, exploiting a specific defect in the lattice structure of diamond, to externally detect the spins of individual molecules.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has already taken advantage of a molecule's spin to give clear snapshots of organs and tissue within the human body, however to get a more detailed insight into the workings of disease, the imaging scale must be brought down to individual biomolecules, and captured whilst the cells are still alive.

Co-lead author Professor Phillip Hemmer, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University, said, "Many conditions, such as cancer and aging, have their roots at the molecular scale. Therefore if we could somehow develop a tool that would allow us to do magnetic resonance imaging of individual biomolecules in a living cell then we would have a powerful new tool for diagnosing and eventually developing cures for such stubborn diseases."

To do this, the researchers, from Professor Joerg Wrachtrup's group at the University of Stuttgart and Texas A&M University, used a constructed defect in the structure of diamond called a nitrogen vacancy (NV)a position within the lattice structure where one of the carbon atoms is replaced with a nitrogen atom.

Instead of bonding to four other carbon atoms, the nitrogen atom only bonds to three carbon atoms leaving a spare pair of electrons, acting as one of the strongest magnets on an atomic scale.

The most important characteristic of a diamond NV is that it has an optical readoutit emits bright red light when excited by a laser, which is dependent on which way the magnet is pointing.

The researchers found that if an external spin is placed close to the NV it will cause the magnet to point in a different direction, therefore changing the amount of light emitted by it.

This change of light can be used to gauge which way the external molecule is spinning and therefore create a one-dimensional image of the external spin. If combined with additional knowledge of the surface, or a second NV nearby, a more detailed image with additional dimensions could be had.

To test this theory, nitrogen was implanted into a sample of diamond in order to produce the necessary NVs. External molecules were brought to the surface of the diamond, using several chemical interactions, for their spins to be analyzed.

Spins that exist within the diamond structure itself have already been modelled, so to test that the spins were indeed external, the researchers chemically cleaned the diamond surface and performed the analysis again to prove that the spins had been washed away.

Professor Hemmer continued, "Currently, biological interactions are deduced mostly by looking at large ensembles. In this case you are looking only at statistical averages and details of the interaction which are not always clear. Often the data is taken after killing the cell and spreading its contents onto a gene chip, so it is like looking at snapshots in time when you really want to see the whole movie."

"Clearly there is much work to be done before we can, if ever, reach our long-term goal of spying on the inner workings of life on the molecular scale. But we have to learn to walk before we can run, and this breakthrough represents one of the first critical baby steps."


'/>"/>

Contact: Michael Bishop
michael.bishop@iop.org
44-117-930-1032
Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Long-Term Investments Remain Critical to Biotechnology Industry Growth, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts
2. Critical Pharmaceuticals Raise GBP650K
3. USDA Awards $1.5 Million to Expand Access to High-Quality Critical Care in Rural Communities
4. Matching Genetics, Technology and Management Practices Critical to Meeting Strong Demand for Agricultural Crops
5. Sirius Genomics Announces New Collaboration with UK Critical Care Genomics Group
6. IntraLinks Poll: Half of Clinical Trial Management Professionals Share Critical Information Via E-Mail
7. Biotechnology Value Fund, L.P. Requests Avigen Board to Provide Critical Information to Stockholders
8. Biogenerics Legislation Provides Critical Pathway to Affordable Access for Patients with Chronic and Complex Conditions
9. Medical Simulation Corporation to Introduce Central Line Management Program at the National Teaching Institute and Critical Care Exposition
10. GenVault Receives Four Critical U.S. and E.U. Patent Allowances for Key Biosample Management Technologies
11. Honeywell to Help B. Braun Healthcare Company Double Manufacturing Capacity of Life-Critical Products
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/2/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 02, ... ... (ETC), a consortium of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies dedicated to collaboratively developing ... companies interested in supplying a vendor-supported, portable online UHPLC, with robust, probe-based ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , December 2, 2016 The ... 2021, growing at a CAGR of 7.3% during the forecast period ... hospitals and diagnostic laboratories segment accounted for the largest share of ... ... report on global immunohistochemistry (IHC) market spread across 225 pages, profiling ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016  GenomOncology today announced the appointment of ... Affairs.  Dr. Coleman will oversee clinical content ... knowledge-enabled platform. The GenomOncology software suite empowers molecular pathologists with ... and clinical decision support, from quality control through reporting. ... , , ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 2016 Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corporation (BPC), a leading ... the addition of its newest plasma collection center located ... . The 15,200 square foot state-of-the-art facility officially opened ... brings the total number of BPC,s plasma collection centers ... BPC,s Chief Executive Officer said "We are pleased to ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/24/2016)... -- Cercacor today introduced Ember TM Sport Premium ... measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, Perfusion Index, ... approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, using only ... key data about their bodies to help monitor these ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When hemoglobin and ...
(Date:11/19/2016)... Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil ... corrections and monitoring, announced today that it has offered ... an independent technology judge determine who has the largest ... telephone calling platform, and the best customer service. ... of what we do – which clearly is not ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... ROCKVILLE, Md. , Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... clinical company developing therapeutics focused on the gut ... public offering of 25,000,000 shares of its common ... its common stock at a price to the ... gross proceeds to Synthetic Biologics from the offering, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):