Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Silk moth's antenna inspires new nanotech tool with applications in Alzheimer's research

A new oily coating that improves the functionality of nanopores was inspired by a similar layer in the silk moth's antenna. 
Nanopores are measurement devices that enable the study of single molecules or proteins. 
Credit: Chris Burke
A new oily coating that improves the functionality of nanopores was inspired by a similar layer in the silk moth's antenna. Nanopores are measurement devices that enable the study of single molecules or proteins. Credit: Chris Burke

Abstract:
By mimicking the structure of the silk moth's antenna, University of Michigan researchers led the development of a better nanopore---a tiny tunnel-shaped tool that could advance understanding of a class of neurodegenerative diseases that includes Alzheimer's.

Silk moth's antenna inspires new nanotech tool with applications in Alzheimer's research

Ann Arbor, MI | Posted on February 28th, 2011

A paper on the work is newly published online in Nature Nanotechnology. This project is headed by Michael Mayer, an associate professor in the U-M departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Also collaborating are Jerry Yang, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego and Jiali Li, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas.

Nanopores---essentially holes drilled in a silicon chip---are miniscule measurement devices that enable the study of single molecules or proteins. Even today's best nanopores clog easily, so the technology hasn't been widely adopted in the lab. Improved versions are expected to be major boons for faster, cheaper DNA sequencing and protein analysis.

The team engineered an oily coating that traps and smoothly transports molecules of interest through nanopores. The coating also allows researchers to adjust the size of the pore with close-to-atomic precision.

"What this gives us is an improved tool to characterize biomolecules," Mayer said. "It allows us to gain understanding about their size, charge, shape, concentration and the speed at which they assemble. This could help us possibly diagnose and understand what is going wrong in a category of neurodegenerative disease that includes Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's."

Mayer's "fluid lipid bilayer" resembles a coating on the male silk moth's antenna that helps it smell nearby female moths. The coating catches pheromone molecules in the air and carries them through nanotunnels in the exoskeleton to nerve cells that send a message to the bug's brain.

"These pheromones are lipophilic. They like to bind to lipids, or fat-like materials. So they get trapped and concentrated on the surface of this lipid layer in the silk moth. The layer greases the movement of the pheromones to the place where they need to be. Our new coating serves the same purpose," Mayer said.

One of Mayer's main research tracks is to study proteins called amyloid-beta peptides that are thought to coagulate into fibers that affect the brain in Alzheimer's. He is interested in studying the size and shape of these fibers and how they form.

"Existing techniques don't allow you to monitor the process very well. We wanted to see the clumping of these peptides using nanopores, but every time we tried it, the pores clogged up," Mayer said. "Then we made this coating, and now our idea works."

To use nanopores in experiments, researchers position the pore-pricked chip between two chambers of saltwater. They drop the molecules of interest into one of the chambers and send an electric current through the pore. As each molecule or protein passes through the pore, it changes the pore's electrical resistance. The amount of change observed tells the researchers valuable information about the molecule's size, electrical charge and shape.

Due to their small footprint and low power requirements, nanopores could also be used to detect biological warfare agents.

A research highlight on this work will appear in an upcoming edition of Nature. The paper is titled "Controlling protein translocation through nanopores with bio-inspired fluid walls."

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, the Alzheimer's Association and the National Human Genome Research Institute. The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

####

About University of Michigan
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At $180 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments, numerous research centers and expansive entrepreneurial programs. The College plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world-class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Michigan Engineering's premier scholarship, international scale and multidisciplinary scope combine to create The Michigan Difference.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Nicole Casal Moore
(734) 647-7087

Copyright © University of Michigan

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Michael Mayer

Abstract of article

Related News Press

News and information

Haydale and Goodfellow Announce Major Distribution Agreement for Functionalised Graphene Materials July 21st, 2014

Relaunch of the Nanoscribe Website New design, optimized research, and impressive gallery of applications July 21st, 2014

Dongbu HiTek Unveils Low-Voltage BCDMOS Process for Efficient Power Management in Smart Phones and Tablet Computers July 21st, 2014

Iran to Host 1st Asian Congress on Nanostructures on Kish Island July 21st, 2014

Nanomedicine

SentiMag® Now Available in Australia and New Zealand July 21st, 2014

More than glitter: Scientists explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs July 21st, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Nanosensors to Achieve Best Limit for Early Cancer Diagnosis July 19th, 2014

Production of Non-Virus Nanocarriers with Highest Amount of Gene Delivery July 17th, 2014

Discoveries

Oregon chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution: Solution-based inorganic process could drive more efficient electronics and solar devices July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

More than glitter: Scientists explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs July 21st, 2014

Carbyne morphs when stretched: Rice University calculations show carbon-atom chain would go metal to semiconductor July 21st, 2014

Announcements

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Opens an Atomic Force Microscopy Demonstration Lab in Mumbai, India July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

More than glitter: Scientists explain how gold nanoparticles easily penetrate cells, making them useful for delivering drugs July 21st, 2014

Iran to Host 1st Asian Congress on Nanostructures on Kish Island July 21st, 2014

Tools

Dongbu HiTek Unveils Low-Voltage BCDMOS Process for Efficient Power Management in Smart Phones and Tablet Computers July 21st, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Opens an Atomic Force Microscopy Demonstration Lab in Mumbai, India July 21st, 2014

Martini Tech Inc. becomes the exclusive distributor for Yoshioka Seiko Co. porous chucks for Europe and North America July 20th, 2014

Sono-Tek Corporation Announces New Clean Room Rated Laboratory Facility in China July 18th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE