Pathogen RNA research paper chosen as Research Highlight by American Institute of Physics

A paper co-authored by the School's Gerard Giraud and Jason Crain has been chosen as a Research Highlight by The American Institute of Physics journal 'Biomicrofluidics'.

The article - which is among the top twenty downloads on the AIP site – discusses a theoretical model for identifying pathogens by manipulating their RNA with electric fields. The work arose from the Critical Wound Care (CWC) project, a collaboration between the Schools of Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Engineering and the Division of Pathway Medicine.

Jason Crain said: "We have used the technology to deposit RNA in solution onto electrodes, but the basic technique could be deployed in a wide range of biosensing applications where the target molecules are dispersed in dilute concentrations in solution. It effectively amplifies or increases the detectable signal above that which you would get if the RNA were just diffusing around and depositing at random on detector surfaces. It was developed in the CWC as part of a platform technology  to detect the signatures of pathogenic RNA as an infection biomarker."

The Critical Wound Care project is funded by Scottish Enterprise.

Article summary

Dielectrophoretic manipulation of ribosomal RNA.

Giraud, Gerard; Pethig, Ronald; Schulze, Holger;  Henihan, Grace; Terry, Jonathan G; Menachery, Anoop; Ciani, Ilenia; Corrigan,  Damion; Campbell, Colin J; Mount, Andrew R; Ghazal, Peter; Walton, Anthony J; Crain, Jason; Bachmann, Till T
Biomicrofluidics  Volume: 5 Issue: 2  Pages: 24116  

First demonstration of dielectrophoresis as a means of fast capture and release of rRNA units, opening new opportunities for rRNA-based biosensing devices. The manipulation of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) extracted from E. coli cells by dielectrophoresis (DEP)  has been demonstrated over a wide frequency range. Quantitative measurement using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy of the time dependent collection indicated a positive DEP (capture) response. A new theoretical model is developed based on Clausius-Mossotti relation and is in good agreement with the data yielding physical properties of the hydrated RNA units such as dipole moment, polarizability and surface conductance and implying that counterions are strongly bound to the charged phosphate groups in the rRNA backbone.