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MiniTweezers in Peru

The Bustamante Group at UC Berkeley has begun collaborating with the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) to explore single-molecule methods (detection, manipulation, analysis) in the fight against tropical diseases.

The Tropical Medicine Institute at UPCH specializes in basic and clinical research on tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, malaria and HIV.  It has access to clinics both in Lima and in several field sites such as Iquitos, Cuzco and La Merced.

The joint project between the Berkeley and Lima labs will include installation of two new instruments in Lima for single-molecule manipulation and analysis.  An atomic force microscope (AFM) and an analytic laser tweezers (miniTweezers) will first be used to train young scientists in single-molecule methods.  Then the team will observe and manipulate single molecules, such as DNA and enzymes, to explore the mechano-chemical properties of molecular motors involved in disease processes.  Two molecular motors currently under study in Berkeley will constitute the first joint research projects to be started at its sister facility in Lima. 

One project goal is to boost the research on drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis through the detailed characterization of clinical isolates.  Taking into account the genetic distance between isolated bacteria and comparing their clinical and culture behaviors, the group will study their polymorphisms in specific genes and the functioning of mutated enzymes all the way to the single molecule level.  Bacteria that possess or acquire antibiotic resistance will be studied in a comprehensive approach aiming to link molecular mechanisms to clinical observations.  Additionally, the advanced methodologies used for this research offer a powerful way to investigate the effect of conventional and experimental drugs on the activity of their targeted enzymes.

The UPCH holds a long standing tradition of putting scientific rigor into service for patients. Their Berkeley collaboration will bring state-of-the-art biophysical research to a country with high burden of infectious diseases.  Hopefully it will succeed in promoting national and international initiatives to connect biophysical and clinical research.  For information contact Dr Daniel Guerra  <danielgg@berkeley.edu>


Posted by Webmaster from 03/01/2009 23:59 until 10/03/2009

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