Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING
PZ HTL SA
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING

Graphene Sandwich Technology Reveals Clues into Inner Workings of Proteins

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 30 Dec 2013
Image: Artist impression of a graphene sheet (Photo courtesy of the University of Manchester).
Image: Artist impression of a graphene sheet (Photo courtesy of the University of Manchester).
British scientists have discovered that the most fragile, microscopic compounds can be saved from the harmful effects of radiation when under the microscope if they are “sandwiched” between two sheets of graphene. The technique could soon be the answer to being able to directly study every single individual atom in a protein chain—something that has not yet been achieved—and transform the determination of cell structure, how the immune system reacts to viruses, and help in the design of new antiviral drugs.

Seeing the structure of some the smallest of objects at the atomic level, such as proteins and other sensitive two-dimensional (2D) substances, requires a powerful electron microscope. This is extremely problematic because the radiation from the electron beam can kill the very fragile object being imaged before any valuable data can be effectively recorded. However, by protecting fragile objects between two sheets of graphene they can be imaged for longer without damage under the electron beam, making it possible to quantitatively identify every single atom within the structure.

This technique has been shown to be very successful on the test case of a fragile inorganic 2D crystal, and the study’s findings were published November 26, 2013, in the journal ACSNano. The research was conducted by investigators from the University of Manchester (UK) and the SuperSTEM facility, which is located at Science & Technology Facilities’ Council (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory (UK), and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC; Swindon, Wiltshire, UK).

The team of scientists, which included Sir Kostya Novoselov, who shared a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for utilizing the remarkable characteristics of graphene, was able to visualize the effects of encasing a microscopic crystal of another highly delicate 2D material, molybdenum disulfide, between two sheets of graphene. They discovered that they were able to apply a high electron beam to directly image, identify, and obtain complete chemical analysis of each and every atom within the molybdenum di-sulfide sheet, without causing any defects to the compound through radiation.

The University of Manchester’s Dr. Recep Zan, who led the research team, said, “Graphene is a million times thinner than paper, yet stronger than steel, with fantastic potential in areas from electronics to energy. But this research shows its potential in biochemistry could also be just as significant, and could eventually open up all sorts of applications in the biotechnology arena.”

Prof. Quentin Ramasse, scientific director at SuperSTEM ,added, “What this research demonstrates is not so much about graphene itself, but how it can impact the detail and accuracy at which we can directly study other inorganic 2D materials or highly fragile molecules. Until now, this has mostly been possible through less direct and often complicated methods such as protein crystallography, which do not provide a direct visualization of the object in question. This new capability is particularly exciting, because it could pave the way to being able to image every single atom in a protein chain for example, something which could significantly impact our development of treatments for conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and HIV.”

Related Links:

University of Manchester
Science & Technology Facilities’ Council Daresbury Laboratory



Channels

Genomics/Proteomics

view channel
Image: Biopsy of small bowel showing celiac disease manifested by blunting of villi, crypt hyperplasia, and lymphocyte infiltration of crypts (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Reduced Elafin Levels Associated with Celiac Disease Bowel Inflammation

Levels of the enzyme elafin, an endogenous serine protease inhibitor, were lower in the small intestinal epithelium of patients with active celiac disease (CD) as compared to similar tissue from control patients.... Read more

Drug Discovery

view channel

Retinoic Acid Prevents Precancerous Breast Cells from Progressing to Full-Blown Cancer

Retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, was found to prevent pre-cancerous breast cells from progressing to full-blown cancer but did not have any effect on breast tumor cells. Investigators at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA, USA) worked with a novel breast cancer model that had been developed by treating... Read more

Biochemistry

view channel

Mitochondrial Cause of Aging Can Be Reversed

Researchers have found a cause of aging in lab animals that can be reversed, possibly providing an avenue for new treatments for age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer, muscle wasting, and inflammatory diseases. The researchers plan to begin human trials late 2014. The study, which was published December... Read more

Therapeutics

view channel

Cytokine Identified That Causes Mucositis in Cancer Therapy Patients

The action of the cytokine interleukin 1-beta (IL-1beta) has been found to underlie the onset of mucositis, a common, severe side effect of chemotherapy and irradiation of cancer patients. Mucositis occurs as a result of cell death in reaction to chemo- or radiotherapy. The mucosal lining of the mouth becomes thin, may... Read more

Business

view channel

Analytical Sciences Trade Fair Declared a Rousing Success

Organizers of this year's 24th "analytica" biosciences trade fair have reported significant increases in both the number of visitors and exhibitors compared to the 2012 event. The analytica trade fair for laboratory technology, analysis, and biotechnology has been held at the Munich (Germany) Trade Fair Center every... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.