New method for quick selection of the best biological materials 1

New method for quick selection of the best biological materials

Friday 15 Jun 18


Martin Dufva
Associate Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 51 33 37 53

In the future, considerable time will be saved when industry needs to seek out the best suitable enzymes for a wide range of products. Thus, researchers predict at DTU Nanotech.

Try to locate the 4 red drops among the green drops. The red drops are the interesting ones.

Great parts of industry today depend on products derived from biological materials, for example enzymes. However, in order for these biological materials to be produced or used properly, they often have to be modified. For example, enzymes in laundry powder should function at a variety of temperatures. The changes needed for these enzymes to have these properties are not necessary immediately obvious, however.

Today, to discover the correct modifications to the enzymes, enzymes with many different kinds of changes are produced and then examined to discover which ones work the best for the purpose. Making these changes is quick and easy, but to discover the properties of each enzyme is time consuming and expensive.

A new project at DTU Nanotech will develop new methods for the rapid selection of the best biological materials. Millions of small drops are put on a small piece of glass, and the drops containing the right biological materials with the right properties are selected by way of light.

"The machine we are building will anchor the red drops to the surface in less than a second and the green ones can be washed away,” associate Professor Martin Dufva says.

New method for quick selection of the best biological materials 2

Can you see the four red dots now?

Adds speed to technology

The new technology is more than 1,000 times faster than the current technology. Especially companies working in biotechnology will benefit from it. In the future, cells with beneficial properties (such as good insulin production) could also be selected by using this technology. For now, the technology will primarily be used for industrial applications, but it is expected that it will also be applied in individualised treatment.

In theory the method works, however, it will take a lot of practical testing as well. “The hardest part is probably to make all factors play together so that a protein is created in the droplets, a signal can be recorded and the drop is anchored. All of this requires that many different reactions work together,” says Martin Dufva.

For the project, Martin Dufva, DTU Nanotech, has been granted 2.4 million DKK from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF).

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17 FEBRUARY 2019