Dr. Chang Jae-won of Pukyong National University has developed a new method of creating biochips that increases their shelf life to up to one year, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning on December 25.
Biochips are small glass or metal slides with hundreds or thousands of locations, or wells, packed tightly together in which biochemical reactions can take place. They are the state of the art in biological research on small, complex molecules. They are used in disease diagnosis, and the detection of chemical agents or even viruses. But since they are extremely small and consist of so many tiny areas, they are often difficult and expensive to manufacture. In addition, if the reactions require the presence of protein molecules in the reaction wells, the shelf-life of these expensive biochips can be less than two weeks. After that time, the proteins embedded in the reaction wells denature, and the biochip is wasted.
But Dr. Chang Jae-won has found a way around the problem. He has discovered a method to print aldehyde-terminated silane micro- and nano-array templates on glass. These glass biochips can be printed out before they are needed remain reactive to proteins for up to one year, which means they can be stored. Then, when a biochip with proteins embedded on it is required, these printed biochips can simply be dipped into the appropriate protein solution. The aldehyde-terminated silane that is already on the chip actively binds to the proteins, pinning them to the biochip and therefore making it ready for experimentation.
This streamlined production of biochips can be used to speed up the process of research fields as diverse as curing cancer, developing new drugs, and fighting the problem of aging.