Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 13880
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Germany

Nanoworld looks to biology for better medical equipment

Molecular motors are biological 'machines' that transform energy and drive movement in living organisms. Research seeks to better understand how these motors function and break down in disease.
Nanoworld looks to biology for better medical equipment
Biological single molecular motors (SMMs) are implicated in many diseases, both infectious and those like Alzheimer's and Werner syndrome. Their study has much to offer the world of nanoscience, which can in turn offer even better study of their operations. This is important for the eventual design of therapeutic and health-enabling devices.

A fluorescence lifetime imaging nanoscopy (FLIN) facilitates the study of single molecules (SMs) and SMMs, and is enhancing our understanding of phenomena in the nanoworld. Limitations for such studies included resolution and short observation times: these can be resolved with FLIN, an extension of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) into the nano-domain.

Minimal-invasive FLIN (MI-FLIN) employs ultrasensitive, non-scanning imaging detectors, based on time- and space-correlated single photon counting (TSCSPC). This permits long-period, living-cell and SM/SMM observations, without cell damage or irreversible bleaching.

The 'Long-period observation of single (bio)-molecular motors by minimal-invasive fluorescence lifetime imaging nanoscopy (FLIN)' (Singlemotor-FLIN) project set out to develop a FLIN prototype for enhancing efforts in cell-biology research and the nanoworld. Focusing on MI-FLIN/FLIM implementation, the EU-funded study aimed at improving aspects of existing TSCSPC detectors and exploring potential functionality such as nanometre SMM-tracking. Researchers also sought to improve on the capabilities of SM/SMM observation using a total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscope.

The Singlemotor-FLIN project set up a multi-component FLIN ensemble for experiments designed to cover its objectives. Novel equipment helped realise practical improvements of the TIRF microscope and FLIN was achieved on application of the TSCSPC method. This succeeded in providing proof of principle for the nanoscope's operation. Also, an internal and external multi-anode (MA) TSCSPC detector system offered the opportunity to set up and test a first-of-its-kind MA prototype.

Greater understanding of processes propelling biological 'machinery' offers the potential for improved model systems and, eventually, the development of artificial motors. Work in this area promises to enhance biological and non-biological interfacing for applications in biological and medical research, as well as nanoscience and its technologies.

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