Washington, Aug 4 (ANI): Flasks, beakers and hot plates in chemistry labs may soon be passé, thanks to UCLA scientists who have developed a microchip technology that can perform thousands of chemical reactions at once.
The scientists have developed technology to perform more than a thousand chemical reactions at once on a stamp-size, PC-controlled microchip, which could accelerate the identification of potential drug candidates for treating diseases like cancer.
The technology is based on microfluidics- the utilization of miniaturized devices to automatically handle and channel tiny amounts of liquids and chemicals invisible to the eye.
The chemical reactions were performed using in situ click chemistry, a technique often used to identify potential drug molecules that bind tightly to protein enzymes to either activate or inhibit an effect in a cell, and were analyzed using mass spectrometry.
While traditionally only a few chemical reactions could be produced on a chip, the research team pioneered a way to instigate multiple reactions, thus offering a new method to quickly screen which drug molecules may work most effectively with a targeted protein enzyme.
In this study, scientists produced a chip capable of conducting 1,024 reactions simultaneously, which, in a test system, correctly identified potent inhibitors to the enzyme bovine carbonic anhydrase.
Presently, the UCLA team is restricted to analysing the reaction results off-line, but in the future, they intend to automate this aspect of the work as well.
"The precious enzyme molecules required for a single in situ click reaction in a traditional lab now can be split into hundreds of duplicates for performing hundreds of reactions in parallel, thus revolutionizing the laboratory process, reducing reagent consumption and accelerating the process for identifying potential drug candidates," said study author Hsian-Rong Tseng, a researcher at UCLA's Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, an associate professor molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.
"The system allows researchers to not only test compounds quicker but uses only tiny amounts of materials, which greatly reduces lab time and costs," said Kym F. Faull, director of the Pasarow Mass Spectrometry Lab at UCLA, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Geffen School of Medicine.
The study appears in the journal Lab on a Chip. (ANI)