Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Chemical Engineers at UCSB Design Molecular Probes to Study Disease

Enhanced detection of
endogenous protease activity.
Image: Abeer Jabaiah
Enhanced detection of endogenous protease activity. Image: Abeer Jabaiah

Abstract:
Chemical engineers at UC Santa Barbara expect that their new process to create molecular probes may eventually result in the development of new drugs to treat cancer and other illnesses.

Chemical Engineers at UCSB Design Molecular Probes to Study Disease

Santa Barbara, CA | Posted on April 6th, 2011

Their work, reported in the journal Chemistry & Biology, published by Cell Press, describes a new strategy to build molecular probes to visualize, measure, and learn about the activities of enzymes, called proteases, on the surface of cancer cells.

Patrick Daugherty, senior author and professor of chemical engineering at UCSB, explained that the probes are effective at understanding proteases involved in tumor metastasis.

"Tumor metastasis is widely regarded as the cause of death for cancer patients," said Daugherty. "It's not usually the primary tumor that causes death. Metastasis is mediated by proteases, like the one we are studying here. These proteases can enable tumor cells to separate and degrade surrounding tissue, and then migrate to sites distant from the primary tumor. The tumor doesn't just fall apart. There are many events that must occur for a tumor to release cancerous cells into the blood stream that can circulate and end up in other tissues such as liver or bone."

The probes allowed the researchers, for the first time, to measure directly the activity of a protease involved in metastasis. They did this by adding their probe into a dish of tumor cells. They then measured the activity of this protease that breaks down collagen -- the single most abundant protein (by mass) in the human body.

"We have immediate plans to use similar probes to effectively distinguish metastatic HER2 positive tumors, one of the most commonly used biomarkers of breast cancer," said Daugherty. "A significant fraction of patients have HER2 positive tumors but we don't know which of those tumors is going to metastasize yet. But our ability to make these probes can allow us to identify which of those HER2 positive tumors have the ability to break down that surrounding tissue, to detach from the primary tumor, and to establish a separate tumor somewhere else in the body."

The authors designed the molecular probe to be recognized by a single protease rather than by the many proteases that are present in human tissues. That is half of the probe. The other half of the probe involves an optical technique used to measure activity. This approach relies upon the use of two engineered fluorescent proteins, derived from marine organisms, that absorb and emit light in a process called FRET, or Forster resonance energy transfer.

To prepare the probes, the researchers introduced a gene that encodes the probe into the bacteria E. coli. Then they produced and purified significant quantities of the probe. All of the information needed for the probe is encoded by a DNA sequence. The probes are easy and inexpensive to produce, as well as easily shared with other researchers.

In addition to studying cancer, similarly constructed probes have ramifications for studying Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and connective tissue diseases, bacterial infections, viruses, and many other diseases.

"The fact that you can generalize the concept, and the way you make these probes, to many systems, makes it attractive," said Daugherty. "We happen to study the activity of this protease and a certain type of tumor cells that are derived from cancer patients. But you could apply this to hundreds of molecules and really develop a working understanding of how groups of proteases function together in cell biology."

In individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, there is increased production of proteases, including the one studied by Daugherty's team. This protease mediates collagen breakdown and joint destruction. "If you've got an enzyme that can chew up collagen and you've got lots of collagen in your joints, then you would expect that you would see more rapid degradation of the joint by those proteases," said Daugherty.

Daugherty's research group has created approximately 25 probes analogous to the one presented in the paper. They are building a panel of about 100 probes and will use this panel to characterize how different proteases function. This investigation could lead to new drug therapies for a variety of diseases.

The first author on the paper is Daugherty's former graduate student, Abeer Jabaiah, who is applying a similar process to another protease involved in tumor metastasis as a postdoctoral fellow in Daugherty's lab. Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health through the National Cancer Institute's Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Gail Gallessich

(805) 893-7220

George Foulsham

(805) 893-3071

Copyright © UCSB

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 News Press

News and information

PetLife Comments on CNN Story on Scorpion Venom Health Benefits August 27th, 2014

Nanodiamonds Are Forever: A UCSB professorís research examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents August 27th, 2014

Aspen Aerogels, Inc. to Present at Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference August 27th, 2014

Nanotech Security Corp. to Acquire Fortress Optical Features Ltd., a Leading Producer of Banknote Security Features August 27th, 2014

Chemistry

Production of Toxic Ion Nanosorbents with High Sorption Capacity in Iran August 17th, 2014

Scientists fold RNA origami from a single strand: RNA origami is a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Using just a single strand of RNA, this technique can produce many complicated shapes. August 14th, 2014

Could hemp nanosheets topple graphene for making the ideal supercapacitor? August 12th, 2014

Iranians Find Novel Method for Processing Highly Pure Ceramic Nanoparticles August 12th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle: Versatile particles offer a wide variety of diagnostic and therapeutic applications August 26th, 2014

Scientists craft atomically seamless, thinnest-possible semiconductor junctions August 26th, 2014

Competition for Graphene: Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultrafast Charge Transfer in New Family of 2D Semiconductors August 26th, 2014

X-ray Laser Probes Tiny Quantum Tornadoes in Superfluid Droplets: SLAC Experiment Reveals Mysterious Order in Liquid Helium August 25th, 2014

Molecular Nanotechnology

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

Breakthrough laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms in an ultra-cold cluster: University of Leicester research team unlocks insights into creation of new nano-materials July 25th, 2014

NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014

University of Illinois researchers demonstrate novel, tunable nanoantennas July 14th, 2014

Nanomedicine

PetLife Comments on CNN Story on Scorpion Venom Health Benefits August 27th, 2014

The thunder god vine, assisted by nanotechnology, could shake up future cancer treatment: Targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma using nanotechnology August 27th, 2014

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle: Versatile particles offer a wide variety of diagnostic and therapeutic applications August 26th, 2014

Symphony of nanoplasmonic and optical resonators leads to magnificent laser-like light emission August 26th, 2014

Discoveries

The thunder god vine, assisted by nanotechnology, could shake up future cancer treatment: Targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma using nanotechnology August 27th, 2014

Creation of a Highly Efficient Technique to Develop Low-Friction Materials Which Are Drawing Attention in Association with Energy Issues August 26th, 2014

Competition for Graphene: Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultrafast Charge Transfer in New Family of 2D Semiconductors August 26th, 2014

Symphony of nanoplasmonic and optical resonators leads to magnificent laser-like light emission August 26th, 2014

Announcements

Nanodiamonds Are Forever: A UCSB professorís research examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents August 27th, 2014

Aspen Aerogels, Inc. to Present at Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference August 27th, 2014

Nanotech Security Corp. to Acquire Fortress Optical Features Ltd., a Leading Producer of Banknote Security Features August 27th, 2014

Malvern specialists to deliver inaugural short course on polymer characterization at Interplas 2014 August 27th, 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