Sensors take biotech beyond the Genome

With the help of sensor technology from TI, scientists will be able to describe many of the two million proteins that make up and control the workings of the human body.

Having finished a draft of the human genome – or the molecular sequence of DNA that comprises human genes – scientists are now tackling even tougher goals: determining genetic variation, studying gene expression and defining the human proteome.

With the help of sensor technology from Texas Instruments, scientists will be able to identify, functionally characterise and describe many of the two million or so proteins that make up and control the workings of the human body. This next frontier is known as proteomics.

‘If DNA are the building blocks of human genes, then proteins are the building blocks of the human body,’ said Andreas Huhmer, Member of the Technical Staff, TI. ‘The variety and diversity of the proteome, the entire complement of proteins in a human body, is significantly more complex than the DNA in the human genome. Not only are scientists analysing the make-up of proteins, but they also want to observe how their shapes affect their function, how they interact with other molecules and how proteins work together in organisms.’

With a new generation of TI’s Spreeta surface plasmon resonance sensor technology, scientists will be able to conduct experiments in real-time and in parallel, shedding more light on how proteins function within the human body under both normal and disease conditions.

Spreeta sensors are based on an established technology involving a very sensitive optical transduction method, called Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), which is capable of observing molecular interactions as they occur, in real-time, and without the need for artificial labelling techniques that can affect molecular function. SPR sensors have previously only been found in large and expensive lab equipment that was beyond the reach of the majority of life science and medical research laboratories. Through miniaturisation and cost-reductions, TI’s Spreeta sensors can now be incorporated into smaller, less expensive instrumentation, allowing for more widespread use of this powerful analytical technology.

TI’s Spreeta 2000, sports a volume that is one-tenth that of its predecessor. In addition, Spreeta 2000 has been produced in a multi-channel format, allowing the observation of many experimental outcomes at once.

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