Scientists Found a New Method to Understand Ion Channel Proteins
Photograph of integrated amplifiers. The well supporting the membrane and channel is noted in the figure.
Ion channel are key regulators of cellular function. They are a critical group of important membrane protein drug targets and account for the activity of 10% of the currently marketed drugs. Ion channels are biomolecules that allow charged atoms to flow in and out of cells, and they are an important work-horse in cell signaling, sensing, and energetics. Currently they are also being explored for nanopore sequencing applications.
For the past decades, people used large rack-mount electronic systems to measure single ion channels.
By designing a custom integrated circuit, researchers measured the target ion channel proteins in microsecond. In the measurement, an artificial cell membrane and ion channel are attached directly to the surface of the amplifier chip thus they can make fast measurement.
They grasped the idea when they tried to study the properties of individual molecules using custom electronics. They successfully speed up the single-molecule measurements which facilitate the new understanding of ion channel protein functions and applications.
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