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Looking for Active Substances on the Chip06.05.2005 - (idw) Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Screening on microfluidics chips is now possible at the FMP - thanks to Caliper Life Sciences
The screening laboratory at the Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin-Buch (FMP) is supported by the German company Caliper Life Sciences GmbH (Rüsselsheim) with a fully automatic screening system. This collaboration allows the institute's scientists to search effectively for new active substances.
For example, the unique Caliper technology is to be used in a project supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research to find new drugs for tuberculosis. Thousands of substances must be examined to find active substances against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes this disease. Working through whole libraries of substances is known as "screening" by the scientists who search for active new drugs.
The FMP established its screening laboratory in 2004, with the aim of strengthening the field of chemical biology. Scientists use the available technology with a high through-put for the specific identification of substances which bind to proteins and which influence their function. Once identified, the substances are not only potential research tools, but possible active substances to be used in diagnosis or treatment.
The Microfluidics System HTS250 is equipped with quartz chips the size of a palm. Using only a single one of these chips, studies can be performed with a through-put of up to 30,000 samples per day. Only a few nanograms of sample are needed for this. It is a great advantage of this system that both starting materials and reaction products can be detected in parallel, giving data of uniquely high quality.
The term "microfluidics" means a canal system embedded in plastic or quartz glass, in which extremely small volumes of fluid can be moved and specifically mixed with reagents. The system registers how molecules migrate in the tiny canal system in the chip. With this end in view, the manufacturer, Caliper Life Sciences Incorporation (Boston), has equipped the chip with two lasers and CCD cameras. Up to 12 samples can be taken up in parallel from sample plates through capillaries, the so-called "sippers", and be analysed at high sensitivity. The molecules studied are previously labelled with fluorescent markers. This means that they are attached to a chemical group which emits light of a specific wavelength after excitation by laser light. The cameras detect this, making it possible to record how the molecule migrates on the chip.
With its screening laboratory, the FMP is making a major contribution towards the development of a national network for chemical biology (ChemBioNet), which is to allow academic groups to have access to substance libraries and screening technologies. The Institute has assumed responsibility for the organisation of the central substance library and for supplying other screening centres with daughter libraries. The FMP together with its partners Max Delbrück Center in Berlin and the Society for Biological Research in Brunswick will build a new screening library of about 15,000 compounds.
The FMP undertakes scientific studies related to the initial stages of drug research. Our work concentrates on clarifying the structure, function and interactions of proteins and on identifying small molecules (active substances) which bind to the identified proteins, triggering biological activity. The newly identified active substances are important research tools, but can also serve as starting points for the development of new drugs. On the basis of this concept, the FMP contributes to the fusion of basic pharmacological research and the development of new drugs. The Institute is a member of the Leibniz Association and is jointly administered with seven other Berlin Leibniz institutes in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
The Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. is responsible for eight Berlin research institutes for natural, medical and environmental scientific research. The institutes are all scientifically independent, but enjoy a unitary legal status, pursue common interests and have a combined administration.
Dr. Björn Maul, FMP
Tel.: 030 / 9479 3-102
Wilt Peters, Caliper Life Sciences
Tel.: 06142 / 8349 315
http://www.caliperls.com Caliper Life Sciences
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