Studies in genetics, genomics, and cell biology have provided a foundation on which to build an understanding of genome biology. Extending this knowledge will require merging these approaches with additional disciplines and new technologies, such as nanotechnology. Nanobiotechnology has provided novel approaches to DNA extraction and amplification, as well as reduced the time required for these processes to seconds.
Microfluidic devices enable polymorphism detection through rapid fragment separation using capillary electrophoresis and HPLC, together with mixing and transport of reagents and biomolecules in integrated systems. Development of a variety of SNP genotyping platforms is already well advanced through research in the field of nanobiotechnology.
Nanosphere’s (www.nanosphere-inc.com) nanoparticle technology enables a microarray-based method for multiplex SNP genotyping in total human genomic DNA without the need for target amplification. This direct SNP genotyping method requires no enzymes and relies on the high sensitivity of the gold nanoparticle probes, says the company.
Nanomaterials are sensitive chemical and biological sensors and form the basis of numerous nanobiosensors used for research in genomics and applications in molecular diagnostics. Several technologies have been described for the use of nanobiosensors for SNP genotyping and mutation detection(1).
Novel nanotechnology approaches to DNA extraction and amplification have reduced the time required for these processes to seconds and amounts of samples required to nanoliter. Currently it is difficult for scientists to study a single live cell and find what gene it is expressing. However, this is possible by injecting an amplified molecular nanoprobe into the cell and it can be applied for early detection of disease.
Application of nanotechnologies in proteomics has been termed nanoproteomics, which is an extension of the scope of proteomics. Low abundant proteins and proteins that can only be isolated from limited source material can be subjected to nanoscale protein analysis—nano-capture of specific proteins and complexes, and optimization of all subsequent sample handling steps, leading to mass analysis of peptide fragments.
A new detection technique called Multi Photon Detection is in development at BioTraces (www.biotraces.com) and enables quantification of sub-zeptomole amounts of proteins. It can be used for diagnostic proteomics, particularly for cytokines and other low abundance proteins. BioTrace is developing protein biochips to detect as low as 5-fg/mL (0.2 attomole/mL) concentration of proteins. Thus, this innovative type of the P-chips might permit about 1,000 fold better sensitivity than current protein biochips, according to the company.