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Optotracing Technology for Detecting Bacterial extracellular matrix (ECM) components

Real-time opto-tracing of curli and cellulose in live Salmonella biofilms using luminescent oligothiophenes. Corresponding author and affiliation: Agneta Richter-Dahlfors, Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Biofilm formation can be studied as it happens using chemicals that fluoresce at different wavelengths as their conformation changes. However, understanding the dynamics of biofilm formation has been hindered by the lack of suitable research tools. Agneta Richter-Dahlfors and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, with coworkers at Linköping University, addressed this limitation using chemicals called oligothiophenes. The optical properties of these “chemical chameleons” vary as their conformation is affected by their environment. Changes in oligothiophene fluorescence monitored the formation of two key protein and polysaccharide components of the extracellular matrix of biofilms. The scope of the technique was demonstrated by characterizing biofilms of various forms of Salmonella bacteria. The work also revealed wider applications by studying cellulose formation in cells of higher organisms. The researchers believe their ‘opto-tracing’ procedure could redefine biofilm research.

npj Biofilms and Microbiomes

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A new fluorescent amyloid ligand to study human tissues with systemic and localized amyloid

Daniel Sjölander , Christoph Röcken , Per Westermark , Gunilla T. Westermark , K. Peter R. Nilsson , Per Hammarström (2016). Establishing the fluorescent amyloid ligand h-FTAA for studying human tissues with systemic and localised amyloid. Amyloid. 23(2). 98-108. DOI: 10.3109/13506129.2016.1158159

A team of scientists at Sweden’s Linköping University have used Amytracker™545 to detect an array of different amyloid deposits in several human tissues. They found that it was extremely sensitive and could be used at very low concentrations to correctly identify every positive amyloidosis sample when compared to the traditional clinical tests. Amytracker™545 also picked up some amyloidosis signals that the traditional methods were unable to detect. This result means that Amytracker™545 could be used to detect amyloidosis before symptoms present leading to faster and hence more effective treatment.

To date, the primary mode of diagnosis for amyloidosis has been the Congo red stain. However, evidence from the Linköping team, presented in Amyloid Journal show that Amytracker™545 is much more sensitive, being able to detect small amyloid deposits in samples that were previously determined to be amyloid-free. “Given the sensitivity of [Amytracker™545], we think this would make an excellent complement to traditional methods and could eventually be a replacement.” Says lead investigator Per Hammarström, Professor at Linköping University.

The Linköping team are optimistic about the use of the Amytracker™545, “It could also be used to identify new types of amyloids and presymptomatic patients who are at risk of developing the disease”, says Hammarström and collaborator professor Peter Nilsson.

Read more: Sjölander et. al. 2016, Amyloid, 23(2), 98-108

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