Nanofluid Nanoarrays Capture Single Proteins Stochastically

Techniques that can measure biomolecules with the highest levels of precision and specificity are essential for the fast-growing field of precision medicine.

Principles of the Nanofluidic Aptamer Nanoarray (NANa). Schematic illustration of the NANa principle for stochastic capture and digital detection of single proteins. Image Credit: Yan Xu, Osaka Metropolitan University

An important step has been taken in this direction led by Associate Professor Yan Xu from the Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka Metropolitan University and his international research team worked closely with Professor Yong Wang of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.

The research team created an innovative nanofluid technology that can stochastically capture individual proteins and digitally identify them at their high natural concentrations. The future of customized disease prevention and treatment can be envisioned by this discovery.

Precision medicine seeks to adapt prevention and treatment plans based on the patient’s unique genetic data, environmental variables, lifestyle choices, and other influences. Accurately measuring biomolecules, including genes and proteins, in individual cells is essential.

However, to date, there have been no techniques that can handle small volumes of single cell content—usually at the picolitres scale (10–12 L)—while also characterizing biomolecules in a cellular context at high concentrations.

The Nanofluidic Aptamer Nanoarray, or NANa for short, is a chip-based, nanochannel instrument built for the digital assay of individual molecules in very small-volume samples similar to a single cell. NANa can stochastically capture and digitally detect individual target protein molecules, even in samples with high concentrations of synthetic antibodies known as aptamers.

The device’s nanochannels are packed with these aptamers, which bind to specific molecules.

The researchers wish to investigate the future integration of AI-based image identification technology with biological big data, carry out practical demonstrations with native cell samples, and digitize the obtained measurement data.

Humans are complex organisms composed of a large number of cells. We hope NANa, which digitizes information about the number of biomolecules in individual cells, will serve as a bridge between life sciences and information science, paving the way for precision medicine in the future.

Yan Xu Associate Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka Metropolitan University

SPS KAKENHI (Grant No. JP19KK0129, JP26706010, JP21H04640, JP20H00497, and JP21J14595), MEXT KAKENHI (Grant No. JP26107714, JP21H05231, and JP19H04678), JSPS Invitational Fellowships for Research in Japan (Grant No. S19151), JST PRESTO (Grant No. JPMJPR18H5) and JST CREST (Grant No. JPMJCR18H2) provided funding for this research.

Journal Reference:

Yang, J., et al. (2023) Nanofluidic Aptamer Nanoarray to Enable Stochastic Uptake of Single Proteins at Normal Concentrations. Small. doi:10.1002/small.202301013.


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