Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Molecules 'light up' Alzheimer's roots: Rice University lab's light-switching complex attaches itself to amyloid proteins

Amyloid fibrils like those magnified here 12,000 times are thought to be the cause of plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Rice University researchers have created a metallic molecule that becomes strongly photoluminescent when it attaches to fibrils.
(Credit: Nathan Cook/Rice University)
Amyloid fibrils like those magnified here 12,000 times are thought to be the cause of plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Rice University researchers have created a metallic molecule that becomes strongly photoluminescent when it attaches to fibrils. (Credit: Nathan Cook/Rice University)

Abstract:
A breakthrough in sensing at Rice University could make finding signs of Alzheimer's disease nearly as simple as switching on a light.

Molecules 'light up' Alzheimer's roots: Rice University lab's light-switching complex attaches itself to amyloid proteins

Houston, TX | Posted on July 13th, 2011

The technique reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society should help researchers design better medications to treat the devastating disease.



The lab of Rice bioengineer Angel Martí is testing metallic molecules that naturally attach themselves to a collection of beta amyloid proteins called fibrils, which form plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers. When the molecules, complexes of dipyridophenazine ruthenium, latch onto amyloid fibrils, their photoluminescence increases 50-fold.

The large increase in fluorescence may be an alternative to molecules currently used to study amyloid fibrils, which researchers believe form when misfolded proteins begin to aggregate. Researchers use changes in fluorescence to characterize the protein transition from disordered monomers to aggregated structures.

Nathan Cook, a former Houston high school teacher and now a Rice graduate student and lead author of the new paper, began studying beta amyloids when he joined Martí's lab after taking a Nanotechnology for Teachers course taught by Rice Dean of Undergraduates and Professor of Chemistry John Hutchinson. Cook's goal was to find a way to dissolve amyloid fibrils in Alzheimer's patients.

But the Colorado native's research led him down a different path when he realized the ruthenium complexes, the subject of much study in Martí's group, had a distinctive ability to luminesce when combined in a solution with amyloid fibrils.

Such fibrils are simple to make in the lab, he said. Molecules of beta amyloid naturally aggregate in a solution, as they appear to do in the brain. Ruthenium-based molecules added to the amyloid monomers do not fluoresce, Cook said. But once the amyloids begin to aggregate into fibrils that resemble "microscopic strands of spaghetti," hydrophobic parts of the metal complex are naturally drawn to them. "The microenvironment around the aggregated peptide changes and flips the switch" that allows the metallic complexes to light up when excited by a spectroscope, he said.

Thioflavin T (ThT) dyes are the standard sensors for detecting amyloid fibrils and work much the same way, Marti said. But ThT has a disadvantage because it fluoresces when excited at 440 nanometers and emits light at 480 nanometers -- a 40-nanometer window.

That gap between excitation and emission wavelengths is known as the Stokes shift. "In the case of our metal complexes, the Stokes is 180 nanometers," said Martí, an assistant professor of chemistry and bioengineering. "We excite at 440 and detect in almost the near-infrared range, at 620 nanometers.

"That's an advantage when we want to screen drugs to retard the growth of amyloid fibrils," he said. "Some of these drugs are also fluorescent and can obscure the fluorescence of ThT, making assays unreliable."

Cook also exploited the metallic's long-lived fluorescence by "time gating" spectroscopic assays. "We specifically took the values only from 300 to 700 nanoseconds after excitation," he said. "At that point, all of the fluorescent media have pretty much disappeared, except for ours. The exciting part of this experiment is that traditional probes primarily measure fluorescence in two dimensions: intensity and wavelength. We have demonstrated that we can add a third dimension -- time -- to enhance the resolution of a fluorescent assay."

The researchers said their complexes could be fitting partners in a new technique called fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, which discriminates microenvironments based on the length of a particle's fluorescence rather than its wavelength.

Cook's goal remains the same: to treat Alzheimer's -- and possibly such other diseases as Parkinson's -- through the technique. He sees a path forward that may combine the ruthenium complex's ability to target fibrils and other molecules' potential to dissolve them in the brain.

"That's something we are actively trying to target," Martí said.

Co-authors of the paper are recent Rice graduate Veronica Torres and Disha Jain, a former postdoctoral researcher in Martí's lab.

The Welch Foundation supported the research.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 285-acre forested campus in Houston, Texas, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to futureowls.rice.edu/images/futureowls/Rice_Brag_Sheet.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

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

Iranian Scientists Use MOFs to Eliminate Dye Pollutants January 29th, 2015

Made-in-Singapore rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva: IBN's MedTech innovation simplifies diagnosis of infectious diseases January 29th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Spider electro-combs its sticky nano-filaments January 28th, 2015

Imaging

JPK opens new expanded offices in Berlin to meet the growing demand for products worldwide January 28th, 2015

Pittcon News: Renishaw adds to the comprehensive imaging options available with its inVia confocal Raman microscope January 27th, 2015

Visualizing interacting electrons in a molecule: Scientists at Aalto University and the University of Zurich have succeeded in directly imaging how electrons interact within a single molecule January 26th, 2015

Graphene brings quantum effects to electronic circuits January 22nd, 2015

Nanomedicine

Made-in-Singapore rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva: IBN's MedTech innovation simplifies diagnosis of infectious diseases January 29th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Planning to Produce Edible Insulin January 28th, 2015

Nanoparticles that deliver oligonucleotide drugs into cells described in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics January 28th, 2015

Nanoliposomes Help Efforts to Cure Bacterial Infections January 27th, 2015

Sensors

Detection of Heavy Metals in Samples with Naked Eye January 26th, 2015

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

Iranian Scientists Produce Graphene-Based Oxygen Sensor January 23rd, 2015

Discoveries

Iranian Scientists Use MOFs to Eliminate Dye Pollutants January 29th, 2015

Made-in-Singapore rapid test kit detects dengue antibodies from saliva: IBN's MedTech innovation simplifies diagnosis of infectious diseases January 29th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Planning to Produce Edible Insulin January 28th, 2015

Nanoparticles that deliver oligonucleotide drugs into cells described in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics January 28th, 2015

Alliances/Partnerships/Distributorships

Entanglement on a chip: Breakthrough promises secure communications and faster computers January 27th, 2015

Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are January 21st, 2015

DNA 'glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs January 14th, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Linear Dimensions to Offer Joint Analog Solution For Fast-Growing Wearables and MEMs Sensors Markets January 9th, 2015

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 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE