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Single Proteins are Detected by a Novel Nanofluidic Technology at Their High Quantities in Nature

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Methods that can accurately and precisely measure biomolecules are essential in the developing field of precision medicine. In light of this, Associate Professor Yan Xu and his international research team at Osaka Metropolitan University’s Graduate School of Engineering have made significant progress in this direction. They have created a novel nanofluidic device that can digitally detect single proteins at their naturally high concentrations by stochastically capturing them. The future of personalized disease prevention and treatment may be built upon this breakthrough.

The goal of precision medicine is to tailor strategies for prevention and treatment based on a person’s genetic information, environment, lifestyle, and other factors. The precise measurement of biomolecules within individual cells, such as genes and proteins, is essential to this. However, there haven’t been any instruments that can simultaneously quantify biomolecules in high-concentration cellular environments and handle the tiny volume of a single cell’s contents‚ÄĒtypically on the order of picoliters (10-12 L).

The Nanofluidic Aptamer Nanoarray, or NANa for short, is a chip with nanochannels that allows for digital assaying of individual molecules in a sample with a volume that is smaller than that of a single cell. NANa is able to digitally detect single molecules of target proteins even in high-concentration samples using synthetic antibodies called aptamers. The device’s nanochannels contain a dense array of these aptamers, which bind to specific molecules.

The researchers plan to use actual cell samples for practical demonstrations, digitize the measurement data they get, and investigate the possibility of combining AI-based image recognition technology with biological big data.

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