Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Michael Jaffe

Second Advisor

Roger Cubicciotti

Third Advisor

David S. Kristol

Fourth Advisor

Patricia Soteropoulos

Abstract

The development of sensitive specific devices (e.g., molecular sensors) for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of diseases, drug discovery, environmental detection of pollutants and/or biological agents has been an active area of research. A molecular sensor is a biomolecule or biomimetic molecule that performs two distinct functions in detecting target molecules. The sensor molecule recognizes a target molecule and specifically binds to it. This specific binding generates a signal in response to the event of target binding that can be then detected. The long term vision of this thesis research work is to develop a specific recognition ligand for detecting proteins in living cell. A molecular sensor for non-nucleic acid analytes (e.g., proteins, peptides, drugs, hormones) can be designed and demonstrated using molecular recognition and design principles analogous in some ways to the molecular switch principles used in Molecular Beacons invented by Dr. Kramer and Dr. Tyagi.

Conventionally, people have looked at nucleic acids and antibodies used as nucleic acid recognizing nucleic acid and antigen recognizing antibody. Nucleic acids have protein binding capabilities i.e. they can act as aptamers having same design construct as molecular beacons. Aptamer nucleic acids act as antibodies which can detect antigens. This thesis work focuses on the development of some basic tools and concepts for the development of aptamer beacons, like immobilization of molecules on substrates and to determine the performance of specific binding assays.

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