Cells are the basic unit of life. They provide an environment for the fundamental molecules of life to interact, for reactions to take place and sustain life. However, the biological cell is very complicated, making it difficult to understand what takes place inside it. One way to tackle th ... more
Diagnostics for everyone
Researchers present a cost-effective machine for the production of microarrays
Microarrays are state-of-the-art tools in molecular biology that enable the rapid and parallel diagnosis of various diseases. Therefore, they are indispensable for the development of new vaccines. Like a computer chip, microarrays contain a lot of information in the smallest space. Microarrays contain thousands of different biomolecules on a surface of a few square centimeters, which can be analyzed in a single experiment. The production of such microarrays has been very expensive and required complex machinery.
Cost-effective, laser-based method
Therefore, the research group of Felix Loeffler develops cost-effective processes and researches novel technologies for the chemical production of microarrays. Similar to the principle of a typewriter, a laser can transfer small polymer nanosheets, containing certain colors or chemical building blocks, in finely defined dot patterns. Subsequently, these molecules can chemically react to complex artificial structures, representing, for example, parts of a pathogen. These microarrays are then used for vaccine research or blood testing. So far, however, this technique could only be used by a few specialists.
In a collaboration of the departments of "Biomolecular Systems" and "Colloid Chemistry", Eickelmann et al. present a cost-effective approach to generate microarrays and show a first application in carbohydrate research. Based on a low-cost commercial laser engraver, employing simple components of consumer electronics (Blu-ray player), they developed a very simple system. In addition, they made a spin coater from remaining components, which serves to produce the (color) donor surfaces. Thus, all steps for microarray production can now be performed in any chemistry lab in the world without any special equipment. The total cost of this system is less than 200 euros, which is 200 times cheaper than a conventional device.
Felix Löffler, senior scientist, emphasizes: "The principle is suitable for many different applications and also offers great potential for basic research. It is suitable for the parallel development of new chemical reactions, as well as, for use in disease research, for the synthesis of proteins, sugars, and DNA."
Sanja Sviben has been awarded with the Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society (MPG). She will receive the award during the annual meeting of the MPG, which takes place from June 13th-14th in Heidelberg. The society recognizes her outstanding doctoral thesis on the investigation of the ... more
When unfolding a tent for the first time, you may wonder how the huge tarpaulin fits into a bag the size of a football. Biologists wonder about something similar: when a cell divides, the surface area of the cell membrane grows. Moreover, when molecules are brought from one organelle to ano ... more
Proteins control life as one of the most important biomolecules - as enzymes, receptors, signal or structural building blocks. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry have for the first time uncovered the proteomes of 100 different organisms. The selected specimens com ... more
Without the Higgs mechanism, particles would have no mass. The Higgs boson, which was discovered in 2012, is therefore also referred to as the “God particle”. It arises as an oscillating excitation of the Higgs field, which penetrates the world. Superconductivity displays similar properties ... more
A new door to the quantum world: when an atom absorbs or releases energy via the quantum jump of an electron, it becomes heavier or lighter, according to Einstein’s theory of relativity (E = mc²). However, the effect is minuscule for a single atom. Nevertheless, the team of Klaus Blaum and ... more
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