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Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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New Biosensor Does Molecular Flash Dance
6 February 1998 8:00 pm
Scientists have developed a molecular flashbulb that's timed to go off when two molecules embrace. The finding, reported in today's issue of Science, could someday lead to ultrasensitive methods for screening potential drugs or fragments of pathogens in the blood and other bodily fluids.
To try to develop a more sensitive probe for isolating individual peptides--short strands of amino acids--from a pool of similar molecules, a team led by chemist Clark Still of Columbia University 4 years ago synthesized small organic compounds that selectively fish out peptides dissolved in chloroform. In their latest work, Still's team strung these molecules, called chemosensors, with a molecule called a fluorophore that glows when the sensor alters its shape after binding to a peptide. According to Still, the flash of just a single bound pair is bright enough to be seen by the naked eye--making it at least 300% more sensitive than previous chemosensors.
But the sensor has a major shortcoming that prevents it from being used to detect biologically important peptides--such as neurotransmitters or fragments of viral coat proteins--in biological samples: It doesn't work in water, the milieu of life. Still says he hopes to overcome this hurdle soon. Nevertheless, the new sensor is "quite an achievement," says Roger Tsien, a neurobiologist at the University of California, San Diego. "It's a conceptual breakthrough," adds chemist Paul Bartlett of the University of California, Berkeley, that "will turn on a lot of light bulbs."