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Nanoarrays - Joint Project to Develop Nanoarrays in Victoria, Australia

Topics Covered

Background
Nanoarrays and Biotechnology
Project Funding and Prospects
Project Outline
Project Outcomes
Proposed Nanoarray Systems
Advantages of These Nanoarrays over Current Technologies
Project Timetable
Contributions from NanoVic, Swinburne and Monash

Background

A new facility for the development of diagnostic devices based on nanotechnology is being constructed in Melbourne. Nanotechnology Victoria (¡§NanoVic¡¨), Monash University, and Swinburne University of Technology completed an agreement in December 2004 for joint investment in new equipment to make nanoarrays for the detection of substances in humans, animals or the natural environment. The nanoarrays will identify target materials down to parts per billion or less, providing much greater sensitivity and reliability of detection for diseases, bacterial contamination, and toxic materials.

Nanoarrays and Biotechnology

Research at the nano scale could lead to major breakthroughs in a range of biological areas - from medical treatments for cancer through to the production of bio-friendly materials to stop the body rejecting implants, and the early detection of chemical warfare agents. The convergence of biotechnology and nanotechnology ¡V at a scale of one billionth of a metre - has the potential to lead to many new applications.

Project Funding and Prospects

Purchase of the infrastructure and assembly of the research team has commenced. The project will take around 3 years, and cost $2.1 million, of which NanoVic will provide $960,000 of its Government funds. NanoVic and its partners expect that this will result in new commercial products for Victorian companies within the next 5 years.

Project Outline

The Agreement comprises construction of major infrastructure, together with three Projects on that infrastructure:

  • Project A is development of a nano-array to detect phosphorylated proteins, peptides and oligonucleotides. The initial focus of Project A will be the detection of molecular markers of bovine mastitis, a major impediment to dairy production in Victoria, for which current detection methods are inadequate.
  • Project B is development of a nano-array to capture and detect metal ions in water. The array can be used to screen a broad range of environmental samples, such as drinking water sources, sewerage, rivers, lakes and water tanks for toxic metal ion contaminants. Such contaminants include cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic, each of which provide threats to health, and cannot be adequately detected by current commercial means.
  • Project C is development of a nano-array for use as an assay for select antigens, such as food related pathogens. The initial focus of Project C will be detection of molecular markers of salmonella contamination of samples.

Project Outcomes

Each array will be constructed as a patterned polymer chip of dimensions ca. 5cm by 4cm. A number of compounds or ligands will be immobilised on each chip. These ligands have been developed at Monash from parental compounds. Swinburne will develop the polymer surface and immobilise the ligands. The function of the ligands will be to bind to the target entities - eg metal ions, antigens and bacteria.

Once the ligands have bound to the targets, the chip can undergo a number of tests using standard analytical instrumentation/processes - eg fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence labelling, mass spectrometry - to identify the entity captured by the array.

Proposed Nanoarray Systems

Figure 1. Representation of the proposed nanoarray systems.

The above figure represents a stylized schematic of the proposed systems. The arrays for the three projects will differ in the chemical nature and the number of ligands on each chip. The ligands for Projects A and B will bind directly to the target. The project C ligands will bind to antibodies that will bind to target antigens.

Advantages of These Nanoarrays over Current Technologies

The advantages of these arrays over current technologies are still to be evaluated quantitatively, but include:

  • Sensitivity: detection of lower concentrations of targets than current techniques/instrumentation. The arrays are also highly selective for specific targets
  • Efficiency: significantly smaller quantities of analyte are required for accurate measurement
  • Speed: nanoarray analyses are much faster than current methods, as they avoid the need for sample culturing or other complex pre-handling procedures. It is anticipated that the arrays can detect targets within 1-2 hours rather than 24-48 hours (Projects A and C)
  • Reliability: nanoarray analyses have the potential to be more reliable than current methods, due to a higher signal-to-noise ratio
  • Cost: nanoarray analyses are expected to have a lower unit reduced cost of analysis, due to lower quantities and reduced time, and use of existing standard equipment

In addition, for Project B arrays, several further development paths are possible: the arrays can detect targets in samples collected from divergent sources with substantial variation in composition. Because the arrays potentially allow for faster, cheaper and more accurate analysis, they can potentially be used in monitoring and quality control applications and devices, particularly in the food sector.

Project Timetable

The overall Project commenced in January 2005 with the completion of the Agreement and ordering of the equipment. Indicative timings are:

  • The infrastructure will be commissioned in April 2005
  • Project A will commence February 2005
  • Project B will commence April 2005
  • Project C will commence September 2005

The overall Project is divided into 6 milestones ¡V the establishment of a library and development of a prototype chip for each of projects A, B and C. It is expected that proof of principle will be undertaken in late 2006/2007. The first prototype chip will be developed in September 2005 for Project A, February 2006 for Project B and April 2006 for Project C.

Contributions from NanoVic, Swinburne and Monash

The total committed to the Project by NanoVic, Swinburne and Monash as at signing the agreement in December 2004 is $2,130,000 over three years. This comprises a total cash component of $1,610,000 and in-kind contributions valued at $520,000. NanoVic has a notional equity of 45%, Monash has 32%, and Swinburne 23% equity.

Source: NanoVic

For more information on this source please visit NanoVic.

Date Added: Jun 21, 2005 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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