University of Bath researchers have developed a methodology for monitoring protein glycation, a process where a protein binds to a sugar molecule. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and many cancers involve various glycated proteins, and so the new technology may help in diagnosis and development of treatments for these diseases.
They used a technique called gel electrophoresis, where samples are put into a thin gel layer and an electric current is applied. The gel acts like a molecular sieve, sorting proteins from the samples according to their size and shape, allowing scientists to identify whether specific proteins are present in the blood.
For this study, the researchers have patented a new type of gel electrophoresis, which uses boronic acid to distinguish between the glycated and unmodified proteins.
Whilst the technique has only been assessed in the lab at present, the researchers say it has the potential to be developed into a test for these conditions in patients.
Dr James added: “Currently there is no blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.
“If we can develop this technique into a test, doctors could potentially diagnose patients at an early stage before their symptoms show up in a brain scan.”
The method could also be used to diagnose diabetes, which also leads to elevated levels of glycated proteins in the blood.
Press release: New technique detects proteins that cause aging…
Abstract in PROTEOMICS: Analysis of protein glycation using phenylboronate acrylamide gel electrophoresis