Optical tweezers with temperature controller, unique equipment in Latin America

Optical tweezers with temperature controller, unique equipment in Latin America

Professor Christian Wilson, academic in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, announcedthe installation of the optical tweezer equipment with temperature controller, the only one existing in Latin America.This was in charge of the inventor of miniaturized optical tweezers, Steven B. Smith, a guest professor by Professor Wilson and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

"Thanks to their collaboration, a donation from Timothy Springer of Harvard University and the contribution of our Department, today this team is in Chile"Highlighted.

According to what Professor Wilson points out, there are only two more teams of this type: one in the United States that belongs to Professor Smith and another in Spain.

"The equipment makes it possible to study biological phenomena at the level of individual molecules at different temperatures. It can range from 2 degrees Celsius to over 80 degrees. Use an external 1435 nm laser to increase the temperature locally.", says Professor Wilson. He added that"The great thing about this equipment is that it allows us to study biological phenomena at physiological temperatures, that is, at the temperature in which organisms live, so it will serve to understand proteins in their most natural context."

He stressed that "we have a long-standing collaboration with Professor Smith. First I met him in Berkeley and then he made his own company to make optical tweezers, now in New Mexico.".

He explained that Professor Smith created this new prototype of optical tweezers that are with temperature controller."I went to New Mexico to test it, the new equipment, with proteins from our lab, we dried it, we put it together, and in January, Professor Smith came to install it." "It allows to see thermodynamic properties, kinetics, temperature"Mentioned.

He noted that"any researcher who wants to study phenomena with temperature, will be able to analyze it in that team", he said, adding that some professors of the Faculty are already occupying it.

"The novelty of these optical tweezers is that they can now be studied at the individual molecular level, at different temperatures", Professor Wilson said.

Asked about it, our academic mentioned that this new equipment is a contribution mainly to basic research, to see how proteins or other molecules, or polymers behave as well.

However"in the future applications can also be made."He mentions as an example that they are studying the BIP protein, which has to do with the entry of the Coronavirus into the cell."Understanding how the BIP protein binds or how this changes with temperature, one is much clearer about how this protein acts with this virus and can even design drugs to inhibit that interaction", explains the academic.

In the same sense, he mentioned that sensors can be made, because this equipment measures force and distance."For example, a drug or a drug changes the strength of the protein, so you can use it as a sensor of what is happening externally and with a more real temperature with which the organism lives."

Professor Smith has come several times to Chile, this being his third visit to the Faculty of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences."The first one helped us install the first optical tweezer equipment in Chile", says Professor Wilson (https://quimica.uchile.cl/noticias/168065/dr-steven-smith-inventor-de-las-pinzas-opticas-miniaturizadas-en-nuestra-facultad).

Steven B. Smith holds a PhD in applied physics from the University of Twente in the Netherlands (1998) and his degree is in physics from the University of Washington, USA. He was the first in the world to observe a single DNA molecule moving in an electrophoresis, which allowed him to understand how molecules move in separation gels (Smith et al., 1989, Science, 243, 203).

Noting the closeness and friendship he has with Professor Smith, Professor Wilson said that"Not only was his coming science, we also walked, went to eat at the German Fountain, pomaire, and trekking on the El Morado glacier."

Source: https://quimica.uchile.cl/noticias/186604/pinzas-opticas-con-controlador-de-temperatura-unico-en-latinoamerica