The interactions involving proteins, lipids, DNA and membrane-bound structures are the foundation for all biomedical processes. Quantitative measurements of these biomolecular interactions (affinity and interaction kinetics) are essential for many biomedical research applications, such as the discovery and development of new pharmaceuticals. Thus, there is a fast-growing demand for sensitive, accurate and high throughput analytical instruments that can provide critical information on biomolecular interactions.
The Photonic Crystal Sensor Project is focused on developing a research instrument that can be used to quantitatively measure the interactions between biological molecules such as DNA, peptides, metabolites, and vitamins. Early prototypes of the Photonic Crystal-based Device made at MNIMBS have demonstrated a 10-fold improvement in sensitivity over existing instruments (Biacore). This technology has been disclosed to the Office of Technology Transfer under UM 3406 and a utility patent has been granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (7,639,362).
PhotonAffinity LLC received a Michigan MIIE grant to develop a prototype, which was built and installed in an M-NIMBS lab in BSRB. A TechStart project in the UM Office of Technology Transfer carried out a market analysis of the PhotonAffinity sensor. Follow-up funding has been obtained in early 2011 from the MUCI program to benchmark the prototype system against established instruments such as the Biacore surface plasmon sensor.
Photonic Crystal Sensor Project
Funded By: Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative and MNIMBS Endowment
James R. Baker Jr., MD, Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering, Director, MNIMBS
Theodore B. Norris, Ph.D.,Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Center for Photonic and Multiscale Nanomaterials
Daniel McNerny, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Chemical Engineering and MNIMBS
Douglas G. Mullen, Ph.D., MNIMBS Entrepreneur in Residence
Scientists at the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences (MNIMBS) are working to develop a new photonic crystal-based life science instrument. The Photonic Crystal Sensor Project is focused on developing a research instrument that can be used to quantitatively measure the interactions between biological molecules such as DNA, peptides, metabolites, and vitamins. Because these molecules are fundamental to biological processes, the photonic crystal system is being developed for potential applications in small molecule drug discovery, clinical diagnostics and targeted drug delivery vehicle development. Early prototypes of the Photonic Crystal-based Device made at the University of Michigan have demonstrated a 10-fold improvement in sensitivity over existing instruments (Biacore). This technology has been disclosed to the Office of Technology Transfer under UM 3406 and a utility patent has been granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (7,639,362). A company named, Photon Affinity, LLC, has been started.
The photonic crystal sensor project is progressing towards the development of a commercially viable technology and product. A new photonic crystal sensor was constructed in BSRB with similar specifications to the instrument used in prior studies (Anal. Chem. 82, 5211-5218 (2010)).
Figure 1: Current design of the photonic crystal sensor.
With the goal of developing a new iteration of the device capable for off-site demonstration, areas for improvement were identified. Repeatable alignment of the laser with the crystal and detector was determined to be an area of need. New detectors were installed to allow for more consistent signal detection.
An external life science instrument design firm, in2being, was hired to assist in addressing alignment needs. Additionally, in2being will provide expertise in developing microfluidic components for the sensor. The first phase of this collaboration will begin in the next 2 months.
Finally, collaborators within the University have agreed to provide material for use with the photonic crystal sensor. This material will be used to help assess the commercial potential and competitive advantages of the technology. Prof. Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska is providing small molecule inhibitors of myeloid cell leukemia-1; these small molecules are ideal candidates for the sensitivity range of the photonic crystal sensor as the molecular weight of these molecules are too small for reliable detection in traditional surface plasmon resonance sensors.