Dr Earl Prinsloo (left) preparing to collect data at the Biorad ProteOn XPR36 Interaction Array System (right).
The National Research Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Equipment Programme (NNEP) and Department of Science and Technology initiatives have brought cutting edge nanotechnology tools into the South African research space over several years. In this series of articles we focus a lens on some of the tools that are shaping the nanotechnology research space in South Africa.
This month we look at one of the enduring questions for researchers in the biological sciences: identifying whether two biomolecules interact; testing how strong the interaction is; and how quickly the molecules bind and disassociate.
Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is arguably at the forefront of these tools. According to Dr Earl Prinsloo of Rhodes University Biotechnology, this is best described as an opto-electrical phenomenon on solid surfaces that allows researchers to monitor and measure changes to the surface in real-time. The changes are observed as a result of the interaction of focused light (photons) with the electrons at a solid surface. Typically, the systems require immobilisation of one of the biomolecules on a gold surface of a biosensor chip and the test molecule to be flowed over. If the two interact, the localised changes in surface mass alters the surface plasmon resonance, allowing for a detectable response. The ultra sensitivity of these label-free technologies allow for the detection of nanogram quantities of proteins.
The Biorad ProteOn XPR36 Interaction Array System, an NNEP awarded facility at Rhodes University is one of two in the country. The system represents a leap in the throughput of sample processing in SPR interaction analysis. Utilising a unique array system created by a proprietary perpendicular 6 X 6 flow channel arrangement, the biosensor allows for the collection of up to 36 individual data points in real-time. For more information and usage requests, requests email: email@example.com
Writers: Janice Limson and Earl Prinsloo
Photo Credit: Tiffany Majero