Global Sources
EE Times-India
EE Times-India > EDA/IP

Miniaturisation enables fastest ion-channel protein measurements

Posted: 29 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cell signalling  miniaturisation  nanopore sequencing  ion channels  protein measurements 

The different capabilities in computer and communication applications are continuously showcased in the miniaturisation of electronics. Handheld wireless devices are enabled with tremendous computing performance operating on battery power. This same miniaturisation of electronic systems is also creating new opportunities in biotechnology and biophysics.

A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering has used miniaturized electronics to measure the activity of individual ion-channel proteins with temporal resolution as fine as one microsecond, producing the fastest recordings of single ion channels ever performed. Ion channels are biomolecules that allow charged atoms to flow in and out of cells, and they are an important work-horse in cell signalling, sensing, and energetics. They are also being explored for nanopore sequencing applications. As the "transistors" of living systems, they are the target of many drugs, and the ability to perform such fast measurements of these proteins will lead to new understanding of their functions. The researchers have designed a custom integrated circuit to perform these measurements, in which an artificial cell membrane and ion channel are attached directly to the surface of the amplifier chip.

"Scientists have been measuring single ion channels using large rack-mount electronic systems for the last 30 years," said Jacob Rosenstein, the lead author on the paper. Rosenstein was a PhD student in electrical engineering at the Columbia Engineering at the time this work was done, and is now an assistant professor at Brown University. "By designing a custom microelectronic amplifier and tightly integrating the ion channel directly onto the amplifier chip surface, we are able to reduce stray capacitances that get in the way of making fast measurements," Rosentein added.

"This work builds on other efforts in my laboratory to study the properties of individual molecules using custom electronics designed for this purpose," said Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering at Columbia University and Rosenstein's adviser. The Shepard group continues to find ways to speed up these single-molecule measurements. "In some cases," he added, "we may be able to speed things up to be a million times faster than current techniques."

Comment on "Miniaturisation enables fastest ion-..."
*  You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.


Go to top             Connect on Facebook      Follow us on Twitter      Follow us on Orkut

Back to Top