Liquid laser detects genes linked to cancer

Using a liquid laser, researchers at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) have developed a way to detect the slight genetic mutations that might predispose a person to a particular type of cancer or other diseases. The work could advance understanding of the genetic basis of diseases, and also has applications in personalized medicine.

The current approach uses fluorescent dye and other biological molecules to find and bind to mutated DNA strands. When a patrol molecule catches one of these strands, it emits fluorescence. However, the patrol molecules tend to bind to healthy DNA as well, giving off a background glow that is only slightly dimmer than a positive signal. Xudong Fan, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and principal investigator on the project, says that failure to discern the difference in signals could yield misdiagnosis. "The patient may have the mutated gene, but you wouldn't detect it," he says.

With conventional fluorescence, the signal from mutated DNA might be only a few tenths of a percent higher than the background noise. But with Fan's liquid laser approach, it's hundreds of times brighter.

Liquid laser identifies and differentiates mutated DNA from healthy DNA by a single base
Using a liquid laser, University of Michigan professor Xudong Fan has developed a highly sensitive technique for identifying mutated DNA that differs from healthy DNA by a single base. The fine, white horizontal line (center) is the capillary cavity that enables the laser to amplify the intrinsic difference in the light signals from healthy and mutated DNA. (Image courtesy of Nicole Casal Moore)

Fan, who works at the intersection of biomedical engineering and photonics, has been developing liquid lasers—which amplify light by passing it through a dye—for the past five years. Finding a way to amplify the intrinsic difference in the signals, Fan's setup amplifies the signal in a glass capillary called a "ring resonator cavity."

Last year, Fan and his research group found that they could employ DNA to modulate a liquid laser, or turn it on and off. His group is one of just a few in the world to accomplish this, he says. Looking at the laser output enabled him and his team to see what's causing the different outputs—thereby enabling them to detect differences in the DNA.

Currently, the university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

The results of the work have been published in Angewandte Chemie. For more information, please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201107381/abstract.

-----

Follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook, and join our group on LinkedIn

Follow OptoIQ on your iPhone; download the free app here.

Subscribe now to BioOptics World magazine; it's free!

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Fluorescence microscopy helps provide new insight into how cancer cells metastasize

By using fluorescence microscopy, scientists have discovered an alternate theory on how some cancer cells metastasize.

In vivo imaging method visualizes bone-resorbing cell function in real time

In vivo imaging can visualize sites where osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) were in the process of resorbing bone.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World