Posts Tagged ‘Bijan Zakeri’

Strong Molecular Super Glue Developed

February 21st, 2012
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Scientists at University of Oxford have developed a “bio-inspired superglue“.  According to an article by Jonathan Wood, at University of Oxford, the Oxford researchers developed the bio-superglue “”by engineering an unusual protein from a type of bacteria that can cause life-threatening disease” (Streptococcus pyogenes).

The scientists think the new Molecular Super Glue will be very useful in the biotechnology and nanotechnology fields.  Previously scientists had trouble getting a strong grip when trying to work with proteins, but this new substance will “grab hold of proteins or stick them immovably to surfaces.” 

Dr. Mark Howarth and his graduate student Bijan Zakeri at the Department of Biochemistry are conducting the study using funding from the Clarendon Fund at Oxford.  The author in his article states:

“The protein FbaB from Streptococcus pyogenes has a 3D structure that is stabilised by another covalent bond.  This strong chemical bond forms in an instant and binds the loops of the amino acid chain together with exceptional strength.  Mark and his colleagues reckoned with a bit of engineering they could split the protein around this exra covalent bond.  Then, when the two parts were brought together again, they might dock and form this strong bond once more … They’ve nicknamed the larger fragment which formed the bulk of the original protein ‘SpyCatcher’.  Once SpyCatcher gets hold of the shorter protein segment, ‘SpyTag’, it never lets go … They will stick together in test tube reactions or inside cells.  And importantly, they don’t stick to other things …”

Apparently, according to Dr. Howarth, “there isn’t really any equivalent way to bind biomolecules together.  There are chemical reactions that can join two proteins together covalently but often only small proportions react, they take a long time, or they require UV light, toxic catalysts or reaction conditions that could damage living cells.”

This landmark study could have many different applications in the future, but for now this awesome molecular superglue will stay put in the research lab.