by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Oct 10, 2012
Many diseases, including cancers, leave genetic clues in the body just as criminals leave DNA at the scene of a crime. But tools to detect the DNA-like sickness clues known as miRNAs, tend to be slow and expensive. Now a chemist and a biologist from University of Copenhagen have invented a method that promises to shave days off the lab work done to reveal diseases, using cheap methods and easy to use analytical apparatuses. Fast, quick and elegant Chemistry researcher Tom Vosch and plant molecular biologist Seong Wook Yang invented a DNA sensor, coupling genetic material to a luminous molecule which goes dark only in the presence of a specific target. Details on their invention, Silver Nano cluster DNA-probes, are published in the high profile scientific journal, ACS NANO and Tom Vosch is understandably proud of the invention.
"We invented a probe that emits light only as long as the sample is clean. That is an unusually elegant and easy way to screen for a particular genetic target", says Vosch of the Department of Chemistry's Nano Science Centre.
DNA-clues help detecting disease
The new detection method exploits a natural quality of genetic material. A single DNA strand is made up of molecules, so called bases, ordered in a unique combination. When two strands join to form their famous double helix, they do so by sticking to complementary copies of themselves. Likewise strands tailored to match particular miRNAs will stick to the real thing with uncanny precision. But detecting this union of the strands was only made possible when Vosch and Yang paired their skills.
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"When we started working on the probe, I just wanted to develop a fast and cheap method for detecting plant miRNAs," explains Seong Wook Yang, and Vosch continues.
"For years I had been making and studying luminous Silver Nano Clusters formed in DNA. Coupling that with Yang's intimate knowledge of the inner workings of miRNA and the rest of his biological toolboxes turned out extremely fruitful,"concludes Vosch.
Department of Chemistry University of Copenhagen
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