August 19, 2009

New gene expression test method created

University of Michigan scientists say they've developed a technology that allows two water-based liquids to mingle without mixing for use in gene experiments.

If you take a brush with watercolor paint and move it around in a dish of water, you usually just wash away the paint in the water and get no picture, Associate Professor Shuichi Takayama said. "That's what happens with water-soluble biological reagents in typical cell culture experiments as well.

But we have a system in which you can actually have aqueous solutions that don't mix with each other. Rather than getting a murky dish of washed-away paint, we can create watercolor pictures at the bottom of a dish of water. And when the paint includes gene expression and silencing reagents, we can sketch biological experiments directly onto a canvas of living cells.

Gene expression and silencing reagents are substances that tell cells in an experiment which genes to turn on or off, he explained.

Takayama and his colleagues, led by postdoctoral researcher Hossein Tavana, report their research online in the journal Nature Materials.