Lighting’ the way to disease prevention

Ignacy Gryczynski, PhD, professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Zygmunt "Karol" Gryczynski, PhD, professor of Molecular Biology and Immunology, are working with Don Stewart from Omm Scientific, Inc. to construct a relatively inexpensive fluorescent-based device to help with the early, precise detection of diseases.

The device will apply fluorescence technology to enhance the detection of microRNA and DNA strings which are responsible for some diseases, such as malaria. This technique is based on resonance of light with nanometers of metals, such as gold or silver. Using this nanotechnology, they plan to produce a small, low-cost device to test water for e-coli and salmonella in under-developed countries.

This research is funded through a Small Business Technology Transfer program grant awarded to Omm Scientific Inc., a privately held bio-tech company that is partnering with the Gryczynskis. They are in the first phase of their research, and plan to build the device in the second phase and conduct a clinical trial in the third phase.

UNTHSC researchers awarded NIH grant to better understand cell functions

The Gryczynskis also recently received a $335,360 grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute to research a nanophotonic approach to imaging exocytosis.

Exocytosis is the durable process by which a cell releases materials to the outside by discharging them as membrane-bounded vesicles passing throughout the cell. The Gryczynskis plan to use the interaction of light with metallic nanostructures to detect the smallest vesicle possible to better understand how a cell functions when infected by disease and how the cell reacts to treatment.

"Understanding the cell and its reactions can help us determine more successful treatments for cancer and other diseases," Zygmunt Gryczynski said.

The Gryczynskis are collaborating with Ryszard Grygorczyk at the University of Montreal and plan to submit another proposal for a larger grant to continue their research.

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