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New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery
Date:3/15/2011

ng on collaborating with the Bornhop group.

Lasers aid measurement

BSI is deceptively simple. It measures the binding force between two molecules mixed in a microscopic liquid-filled chamber by shining a red laser like those used in barcode scanners through it. When the geometry of the chamber is correct, the laser produces an interference pattern that is very sensitive to what the molecules are doing. If the molecules begin sticking together, for example, the pattern begins to shift.

In the new study, the researchers created synthetic membranes that contained a small protein, called GM1, that is a primary target that cholera toxins bind with in order to get into a cell. When they mixed these membranes with cholera toxin B, they measured a binding force consistent with that obtained by other methods.

The researchers performed similar validation tests with naturally derived membranes and three membrane proteins, one associated with breast cancer, another associated with pain and inflammation and the neurotransmitter GABA known to aid in relaxation and sleep and to regulate anxiety.

When they mixed the membranes containing each of these proteins with molecules known to bind with them, the BSI technique provided measurements that agreed with the values obtained by other methods, the scientists reported.

Patents pending

Vanderbilt has applied for and received three patents on the process and has several other patents pending.

The university has issued an exclusive license to develop the technology to Molecular Sensing, Inc. Bornhop is one of the founders of the start-up and serves as its chief scientist.


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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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