The CNBI is located in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at Michigan State University. CNBI consists of 11 researchers from Michigan State University, the Michigan Molecular Institute and Neogen Corporation. Dr. Mark Worden is the Director of CNBI. The mission of CNBI is to develop nanostructured, biomimetic-interface architectures that express membrane-protein activities and can be used to produce high-value devices and processes.
Nanostructured Biomimetic Interface:
A nanostructured biomimetic interface as shown in Fig.1 can be thought to be an artificial cell membrane. Living cells carry out many vital processes using cell membranes that consist mainly of lipid bilayer and membrane proteins. These functions can be reproduced in the laboratory using biomimetic interfaces, whose structure mimics that of a cell membrane. Since the thickness of lipid bilayers and proteins is about 5nm, research on biomimetic interfaces represents an integration of Biotechnology and Nanotechnology .
Fig. 1. Biomimetic Interface bound to a Electrode.
Biomimetic Interfaces for Pharmaceutical Applications: The objectives of this project as proposed by Neeraj Kohli & co-workers are: to produce membrane proteins having medical relevance, to fabricate nanostructured and functional biomimetic interfaces based on membrane proteins and to characterize the interfaces using electrochemical techniques such as impedance spectroscopy and optical techniques. The membrane proteins currently under investigation are Neuropathy target Esterase (NTE), Transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) family & Cytochrome C oxidase. NTE is a membrane protein in vertebrate neurons and is responsible for the ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ and other Motor Neuron diseases. Fully functional biosensors that can detect the activity of NTE as well as inhibit its esterase activity have been developed.
The changes in ion flow through the TRPV family proteins (VR1) due to mechanostimulation (effect of shear flow & pressure), elevated temperature and chemostimulation are being measured by Sachin Vaidya & co workers. Their objective is to develop an experimental system that can precisely control the above-mentioned variables and measure their influence on VR1 activity.
Another potential application of the biomimetic interfaces is in the development of silicon-based, high-throughput drug screening systems. Novel approaches for fabricating high density arrays of lipid bilayers have been developed using a combination of electrodeless deposition with microcontact printing . The potential applications of this technique are in the fabrication of inexpensive electrodes.
Versatile Bioelectronic interfaces: Bioelectronic interfaces that allow dehydrogenase enzymes to communicate with electrodes have potential applications in biosensors and biocatalytic reactors. A major challenge in creation of such bioelectronic interface is to orient the enzyme, its cofactor, and an electron mediator properly with respect to the electrode in order to achieve efficient, multistep electron transfer. A versatile, new method that uses cysteine, an inexpensive, branched amino acid having sulfhydryl amino and carboxy functional groups have been used by Brian L. Hassler & co-workers  to achieve such orientation.
1) Kohli, N.; Dvornic, P.; Kaganove, S.; Worden, M.; Lee, I.;(2004) “Nanostructured Cross-linkable via Ampphiphilic Dendrimer Stamping”, Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 25, 935-941.
2) Kohli, N.; Worden, M.; Lee, I.;(2005) “Intact Transfer of Layered Bionanocomposite Arrays by Microcontact Printing” (Submitted).
3) Hassler, B.; Worden, M.;(2005) “Versatile bioelectronic interfaces based on heterofunctional linking molecules” (Submitted)
I would like to thank Dr. Mark Worden for allowing me to visit the CNBI & graduate students Neeraj Kohli & Brian L. Hassler for discussing their projects with me.