May 07, 2007
Chip Speeds Molecule Receptor Binding Affinity Search

Here's another example of the trend toward massive parallelism and micro-miniature devices for manipulating biological systems. A chip can monitor the binding affinity of 12,000 molecules at a time.

May 1, 2007 -- A chemist at Washington University in St. Louis is making molecules the new-fashioned way selectively harnessing thousands of minuscule electrodes on a tiny computer chip that do chemical reactions and yield molecules that bind to receptor sites. Kevin Moeller, Ph.D., Washington University professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, is doing this so that the electrodes on the chip can be used to monitor the biological behavior of up to 12,000 molecules at the same time.

Moeller thinks he can automate the production of a variety of molecules and the testing of their affinity to receptors.

But, with an electrochemically addressable computer chip, provided in great abundance by one of his sponsor's, CombiMatrix in Seattle, Moeller saw a way of probing the binding of a library with a receptor without the need for washing by putting each member of the molecular library by an electrode that can then be used to monitor its behavior.

The electrochemically addressable chips being used represent a new environment for synthetic organic chemistry, changing the way chemists and biomedical researchers make molecules, build molecular libraries and understand the mechanisms by which molecules bind to receptor sites.

"We believe we can move most of modern synthetic organic chemistry to this electrochemically addressable chip. 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."

Cells are covered with and contain a large variety of receptors. The ability to automate the production and screening of compounds that might bind at each kind of receptor can accelerate the search for new drugs and other biomedically useful compounds.

Biochips controllable by computers open up the prospect of highly automated science. Rather than mess around with test tubes, beakers, and the like scientists will run software that'll create and automatically test millions of chemicals looking for desired interactions.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 May 07 11:22 PM  Biotech Advance Rates

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