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Micro-device integrates 10,000 artificial lipid bilayers

20 Nov 2014

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A growing range of medical devices has become available to treat various ailments, including a gene network operated by brainwaves, prosthetic retina that promises to restore vision

, diagnostic breathalyser for detecting diseases, and sensor system that helps prostheses fit better. A micro-device that integrates over 10,000 artificial lipid bilayers with an asymmetric lipid composition is yet another one. University of Tokyo researchers who developed the device said it could be useful used as a drug screening platform that targets enzymes maintaining asymmetric lipid distribution, for one.

The lipid composition is different between inner and outer leaflet of bio-membrane (asymmetric), which is constantly maintained by membrane-embedded enzymes. Various physiologic functions are regulated by the lipid compositional asymmetry, and therefore, it had been highly awaited to develop the method for measuring the lipid asymmetry disruption with high sensitivity.

Although liposome has been widely used to measure the lipid asymmetry disruption, it is technically challenging to control the lipid compositional asymmetry in highly reproducible manner, and moreover, to detect the lipid asymmetry disruption with high sensitivity due to incompatibility to the indicator of lipid asymmetry.

Led by Dr. Rikiya Watanabe and Prof. Hiroyuki Noji, the research group addressed the challenge by creating asymmetric lipid bilayers in a high throughput manner. Integrating 10,000 artificial lipid bilayers with an asymmetric lipid composition, the micro-device has achieved a highly-sensitive and long-time analysis of lipid asymmetry disruption even at single bio-membrane level.

University of Tokyo's micro-device

Illustration of the asymmetric bio-membrane. (Source: University of Tokyo)

The researchers expect that the developed technologies will pave the way for novel medical and pharmacological applications.

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