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May Chementator Briefs

By Edited by Gerald Ondrey |

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Sorting biomolecules Researchers at Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.; www.harvard.edu) have demonstrated a hybrid chemical-mechanical system that can be used for the detection and separation of biomolecules. The system consists of an array of microscopic polymeric fins with attached nucleic acid molecules, which can recognize specific target molecules. The polymer fins are embedded in a hydrogel that undergoes volume changes in response to chemical stimuli (in this case, pH changes). The Harvard team immersed the hybrid assembly in a two-phase microfluidics system with top and bottom fluid layers in laminar flow. The polymeric fins were able to capture the protein thrombin in the top layer because they were adorned with the specific polypeptide sequence for the target biomolecule. Then the team was able to move the captured thrombin molecules to the bottom fluid layer with a shift in pH. The assembly could inspire hybrid assemblies for low-energy separation and purification.
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