Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biological Warfare, Mad Cow Disease On University of Houston Student's Hit List

Date:
June 10, 2005
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
A University of Houston student has made an award-winning breakthrough in biosensors that could help bioterrorism researchers in their ability to quickly and accurately detect toxic biological agents. Mrinal Shah, a doctoral student in chemical engineering at UH, has developed new methods in the use of biosensors that could provide one of the first steps in developing a protein-based biosensor that would help the government in safeguarding the nation.

Mrinal Shah, who is pursuing a doctorate degree in chemical engineering at UH, has made an award-winning breakthrough in biosensors that could help bioterrorism researchers in their ability to quickly and accurately detect toxic biological agents.
Credit: Photo by Jeff Shaw

HOUSTON, June 9, 2005 – A University of Houston student has made an award-winning breakthrough in biosensors that could help bioterrorism researchers in their ability to quickly and accurately detect toxic biological agents.

Related Articles


Mrinal Shah, a doctoral student in chemical engineering at UH, has developed new methods in the use of biosensors that could provide one of the first steps in developing a protein-based biosensor that would help the government in safeguarding the nation.

Working under the direction of Peter Vekilov, a world-renowned expert in the field of nucleation and a chemical engineering professor at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, Shah employs liquid-liquid phase separation – a technique that is similar to the concept behind how oil and water separate. His research makes use of the proteins needed in biosensors and accurately controls the nucleation of those proteins.

“The development of a successful biosensing chip has potential uses that are manifold and urgently needed with several applications that are immediately significant,” Shah said. “If there is biological warfare somewhere, and you put this chip into that environment, you would know exactly what is in that environment, and safety precautions could be taken. That’s the ultimate achievement that every scientist working in protein chips dreams about.”

Biosensing chips are already in use for studies such as the quality control of water and checking glucose levels. Shah’s involvement in the biosensing application began with his initial interest in protein nucleation that occurs with diseases such as Parkinson’s, sickle cell anemia and Alzheimer’s. While his methods may prove useful in the early detection of these diseases, Shah said he is not searching for any cures. He said that what basically happens is the protein is normal inside the body, but then suddenly something happens for it to just start nucleating. The protein misfolds, denatures and begins to aggregate together forming into the disease.

“We’re not finding cures ourselves, but we are finding the mechanisms that follow the formations of these fibers,” Shah said. “Once we know the mechanism, then we also can know by what methods to reduce the rate of its formation. The physics behind the mechanisms is much more interesting to us.”

Shah says there are a number of other applications for the chip, as well, including combating mad cow disease and anthrax.

While working on the initial part of his project – studying the kinetics and the thermodynamics involved to better understand what mechanisms govern the phase separation of nanoscale droplets of protein solution – Shah came up with the idea that could lead to a new potential way of making biosensors that would be fast and easy. He found that control over nucleation is essential to the creation of biosensors.

“It was a difficult project, because we were hoping that one of two approaches would work, and neither of them did,” Vekilov said. “We tried electrophoresis and dielectrophoresis and neither worked. But Mrinal kept working, kept trying new things and finally developed his own method. What we discovered is that the solution has a time-dependent, non-uniform electric field, and this is what causes the nucleation.”

“The next step will be to tag the protein molecule onto the micro-area electrode,” Shah said. “That will be a challenge, but we already have several promising strategies in mind.”

Since winning second place at last year’s Keck Annual Research Conference, Shah has been able to replicate his results, using a more widely used biosensing protein – horseradish peroxidase. The W.M. Keck Center for Computational and Structural Biology is designed to unite modern biological, physical and computational sciences in addressing problems in biology and biomedicine. Its six member institutions include UH, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Biological Warfare, Mad Cow Disease On University of Houston Student's Hit List." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050609234408.htm>.
University of Houston. (2005, June 10). Biological Warfare, Mad Cow Disease On University of Houston Student's Hit List. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050609234408.htm
University of Houston. "Biological Warfare, Mad Cow Disease On University of Houston Student's Hit List." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050609234408.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

Police Testing New Gunfire Tracking Technology

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A California-based startup has designed new law enforcement technology that aims to automatically alert dispatch when an officer's gun is unholstered and fired. Two law enforcement agencies are currently testing the technology. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins