A more efficient DNA technology to detect and treat infectious diseases and cancer has been developed by researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR.
The researchers improved on existing technologies to create a modified single-stranded DNA molecule called aptamer. DNA aptamers are ideal for pharmaceutical applications because they can specifically bind to any molecular target in the body such as proteins, viruses, bacteria and cells.
Once DNA aptamers are artificially generated for each target, they will bind to it and inhibit its activity. This makes DNA aptamers a promising technology for disease detection and drug delivery. But no DNA aptamers have been approved for clinical use yet because current aptamers do not bind well to molecular targets and are easily digested by enzymes.
“To overcome these challenges, we have created a DNA aptamer with strong binding ability and stability with superior efficacy. We hope to use our DNA aptamers as the platform technology for diagnostics and new drug development,” said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying.
A crucial ‘on switch’ that boosts the body’s defences against infections has been successfully identified in new scientific research.
The breakthrough made by researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Dundee could lead to the development of new drugs to enhance the body’s immune responses to attack, which could benefit people suffering from cancer and other serious conditions.
Their findings have been published in the Journal of Molecular and Cell Biology.
“We have shown that the cells which turn on our immune responses to defend against, for example, infectious diseases, require a particular protein to activate them in order to function properly,” explains Dr Martin-Granados formerly of the University of Aberdeen and now at Cambridge.
“This protein, or enzyme, (PTP1B) effectively acts as a kind of ‘on switch’ and if it is missing or dysfunctional in our body, we cannot mount effective immune responses to tumours or infections.”
A ‘Paper Machine’ for Molecular Diagnostics
A “paper machine” about 10 inches in length could bring modern diagnostics to remote places. To address this disparity, scientists are developing a portable, low-cost “paper machine” for point-of-care detection of infectious diseases, genetic conditions and cancer. Their report appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.
Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors’ offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.
Researchers at McMaster University have developed a new way to print paper biosensors, simplifying the diagnosis of many bacterial and respiratory infections.
The new platform is the latest in a progression of paper-based screening technologies, which now enable users to generate a clear, simple answer in the form of letters and symbols that appear on the test paper to indicate the presence of infection or contamination in people, food or the environment.
“The simplicity of use makes the system easy and cheap to implement in the field or in the doctor’s office,” says John Brennan, director of McMaster’s Biointerfaces Institute, where the work was done with biochemist Yingfu Li and graduate student Carmen Carrasquilla.
“Imagine being able to clearly identify contaminated meat, vegetables or fruit. For patients suspected of having infectious diseases like C. diff, this technology allows doctors to quickly and simply diagnose their illnesses, saving time and expediting what could be life-saving treatments. This method can be extended to virtually any compound, be it a small molecule, bacterial cell or virus,” he says.
The research, in its formative stage, addresses a key problem facing current paper-based biosensing techniques which are labour-intensive, sometimes costly and inconvenient, and often difficult to mass produce.
Read more: Inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious disease, food contaminants