Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have been able to analyze hyaluronic acid using solid-state nanopore sensor. This technique allows them to study its role in osteoarthritis and other inflammatory joint disorders. This technique is first of a kind and is a significant improvement regarding relative ease to perform and high precision from other techniques like gel electrophoresis, mass spectroscopy or size exclusion chromatography.
The study was led by Hall and Elaheh Rahbar, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist, and conducted in collaboration with scientists at Cornell University and the University of Oklahoma. The study is published in the journal of Nature Communications.
“Our results established a new, quantitative method for the assessment of a significant molecular biomarker that bridges a gap in the conventional technology,” said Adam R. Hall. “The sensitivity, speed and small sample requirements of this approach make it attractive as the basis for a powerful analytic tool with distinct advantages over current assessment technologies.”
In the study researchers first employed synthetic hyaluronic acid polymers to validate the measurement approach. They then used the platform to determine the size distribution of hyaluronic acid extracted from the synovial fluid of a horse model of osteoarthritis.
The measurement approach consists of a microchip with a single hole or pore in it that is a few nanometers wide that is small enough that only individual molecules can pass. And as they do, each can be detected and analyzed. By applying the approach to hyaluronic acid molecules, the researchers were able to determine their size one-by-one. Hyaluronic acid size distribution changes over time in osteoarthritis so this technology could help better assess disease progression, Hall said.
Researchers hope to conduct their next study in humans, and then extend the technology with other diseases where hyaluronic acid and similar molecules play a role, including traumatic injuries and cancer.
Citation: Rivas, Felipe, Osama K. Zahid, Heidi L. Reesink, Bridgette T. Peal, Alan J. Nixon, Paul L. Deangelis, Aleksander Skardal, Elaheh Rahbar, and Adam R. Hall. “Label-free analysis of physiological hyaluronan size distribution with a solid-state nanopore sensor.” Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (2018). doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03439-x.
Adapted from press release by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.