New retrieval method makes studying cancer proteins easier

Jul 06, 2010

A Purdue University researcher can better retrieve specific proteins needed to study how cancer cells form by using a newly developed technique and synthetic nanopolymer.

W. Andy Tao, an assistant professor of biochemistry, said proteins can be mapped and analyzed to find ways to inhibit the processes that lead to cancer. But first those few proteins must be fished out of a sea of thousands of others.

Tao developed and patented the polymer-based metal-ion affinity capture, or PolyMAC. The synthetic nanopolymer isolates proteins and peptides that have undergone a process called phosphorylation that is highly associated with cancer, and a patented technique allows Tao to retrieve those proteins. Obtaining the information on these proteins is important for studying how to inhibit the processes that lead to cancer.

"You really want to capture these particular proteins, but there are so many different types of proteins around them," said Tao, whose findings were published in the early online version of the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. "The target proteins are a thousand times lower in amount than other proteins. They are difficult to study without the capturing step."

Normal cells grow, divide and eventually die. But continue to grow and do not die. Tao said - in which a type of enzyme called a kinase attaches to and catalyzes a protein on a cell - is thought in many cases to be responsible for creating cancer cells.

Tao's nanopolymer is water-soluble and has titanium ions on its surface, which bind with phosphorylated proteins and contained in a solution. The also has a chemical group attached that is reactive and attached to small beads, which allow Tao to retrieve the polymers.

"Once you put the nanopolymer in the solution, you have to retrieve them, so we put a handle on the polymer so we can grab on to it and fish it out of the solution," Tao said.

In laboratory tests, Tao's nanopolymer and retrieval technique isolated about twice as many proteins that had been phosphorylated by an enzyme highly expressed in certain leukemia cells but absent in metastatic breast cancer cells.

Tao is now seeking opportunities to get the polymer and technique into wider use to aid in the development of new cancer drugs.

"This technique is very useful and can be used widely in research for as well as infectious diseases," Tao said.

Explore further: Key milestone for brown fat research with a ground-breaking MRI scan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Yale scientists map cell signaling network

Nov 30, 2005

Yale University scientists have mapped, for the first time, the proteins and kinase signaling network that control how cells of higher organisms operate.

New technique can be breakthrough for early cancer diagnosis

Sep 12, 2007

Early detection of disease is often critical to how successful treatment can be. Therefore, the development of new methods of diagnosis is a hot research field, where every small step is of great importance. In an article ...

Recommended for you

New pain relief targets discovered

6 hours ago

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

Building 'smart' cell-based therapies

7 hours ago

A Northwestern University synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other ...

Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

10 hours ago

Stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue, according to a new study from the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...