Nano-Scale Genomic and Proteomic Analysis in Living Cells

CPI is working with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to develop technologies that will give rise to a new range of nano-scale sensors and probes, using silicon quantum dots. This technology will be of particular value to cell biologists, exploring the bio-processes within living cells. It offers the potential to innovate novel nano-particle medical diagnostic techniques which will help clinical practitioners target specific tissue areas and organs more smartly in drug therapy and disease management.

Development of Technologies to Investigate Molecular Processes within Living Cells

This project builds on existing research undertaken at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne for exploring the use of silicon nanoparticles or quantum dots in genomic and proteomic analysis. The project team will develop specific technologies to enable biologists to better investigate the molecular processes within individual living cells, and hence identify more direct and targeted therapeutic strategies.

Existing Techniques for Collecting Genetic Information

A vast amount of information is now being collected on genes and the expression of proteins in organisms from the application of modern analytical techniques to molecular biology including DNA microarrays, fluorescence labelling techniques and mass spectrometry-2D electrophoresis.

Limitations of Existing Techniques for Collecting Genetic Information

However, there are still serious limitations to these methods as they do not operate with high spatial resolution or in real-time, and as such, cannot reveal much of the information required by biologists, including descriptions of when and where mRNA transcripts are produced and proteins are synthesized and how these macromolecules are moved around the cell and located in specific cell compartments.

The Importance of In-Situ Detection of Protein-Protein Interactions

In-situ detection of protein-protein interactions, whether directly or linked through sequences of reactions, will be fundamental to future healthcare needs. Information about the precise nature of protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions in living cells will provide a knowledge base that can be applied to innovating novel and more effective medical therapeutic strategies.

Applications of Quantum Dots and Their Unique Properties

Quantum dots have unusual properties arising from their nano-scale size. In particular, their unusual luminescence characteristic and the facility with which the surface of silicon can be chemically manipulated, suggests quantum dots could be used as nanoscale tags for probing living cells.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CPI.

For more information on this source, please visit CPI.

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