Nearly every process conducted in a biotechnology company requires analytical methods to back it up. Since BioPharm's last
guide published in December 2001,
scientists have developed exciting, new tools for conducting research. Listed here is a sampling of new technological developments
unveiled in 2005.
Amino Acid Analysis
AAA is hydrolysis of a protein or peptide into its individual components and is often used for compositional analysis of naturally
occurring amino acids. Advancing work concentrates on automation and handling multiple samples simultaneously.
Nanogen, Inc. has two new US patents: "Amino Acid Sequence Pattern Matching" and "Enzymatic modification of a nucleic acid-synthetic
binding unit conjugate."2 ParAllele BioScience, Inc. offers an extremely large assay panel with a capacity of 20,000 non-synonymous single nucleotide
polymorphism (SNPs) to be used in human genotypifg studies.3 Sigma-Aldrich launched its Panorama Human p53 Protein Functional Microarray. Developed by Procognia and distributed exclusively
by Sigma-Aldrich, the p53 protein microarray is based on a novel, proprietary technology that ensures the protein is correctly
folded and confers full functionality.4
Biocalorimetry studies molecular interactions and conformational energetics by direct measurement of the change in enthalpy
for a biological process. Technical societies are the best source of information. On the current calendar is the 2005 North
American Thermal Analysis Society (NATAS) Conference in Universal City CA, September 18-21, 2005. Prior to the central meeting,
a short course is offered by NATAS September 17-18, 2005, at Sheraton Universal Hotel, Universal City, CA.5
The International Society for Biological Calorimetry is a technical society devoted to this topic. The society will be holding
its 14th conference (founded in 1973) in Gdansk Poland June 2-8, 2006.6 Major topics scheduled for discussion include:
- Instrumentation and Theoretical Approaches
- Biological Materials
- Biochemical and Pharmaceutical Aspects
- Microorganisms and Tissue Cultures
- Plants and Photocalorimetry
- Insects and Social Communities
- Aquatic Animals
- Medical Aspects
The Society also has expanded its reach to South America. The second Campinas Symposium on Calorimetry and Chemical Thermodynamics
will be held at the University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil April 9-13 2006. For more information, refer to http://
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a miniaturized instrumental version of traditional electrophoresis. CE has been applied
to separations historically performed by gel electrophoresis. The most notable example is the adaptation of CE technology
in multi-channel DNA sequencers, which enabled the sequencing of the human genome in less than two years. In a sister publication
(LCGC North America), Ted Weir related the use of CE to replace SDS-PAGE.7
"The CE-SDS technique has two unique advantages that eliminate the problems encountered in other CE techniques such as capillary
zone electrophoresis. First, the high viscosity of the sieving polymer reduces EOF (electroosmotic flow), to a very low level.
This eliminates the major source of poor reproducibility of migration times and peak areas in CE. Second, the high negative
charge density of SDS-protein complexes eliminates the problem of protein adsorption to the capillary wall.
"Recently, chip-based instruments for analysis of biopolymers have been introduced by three companies. These employ photolithographic
technologies to microfabricate devices with channels etched into substrates such as glass and plastics for electrically driven
separations. All three commercial systems provide chips and application kits for the CE-SDS chemistry."