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Teflon: Not just for pots and pans as Sentinel Bioactive Paper researchers find

EDMONTON, April 16, 2014 /CNW/ - When a drop of ink hits blotting paper, it "bleeds" much wider than the circumference of the original drop. And quickly, too. Although researchers have developed ways of containing water-based solutions to specific areas of paper, until now, there was no easy way to modify paper to restrict chemicals such as organic solvents, bases and acids or surfactants to particular areas. The beauty of this discovery is that it dramatically expands the range of usable reagents and speeds up their efforts to develop multiple tests on the same sheet.

Under the leadership of Dr. Ratmir Derda at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network researchers Frédérique Deiss (lead author), Wadim L. Matochko, Natasha Govindasamy, Edith Y. Lin and Derda himself introduced a grid of solvent-repelling Teflon barriers inside the paper, which confine liquid to where it is wanted. Why Teflon? It is resistant to a wide range of solvent, non-toxic and non-fluorescent, and researchers can now modify paper and generate arrays with 96 test-zones per sheet. (See video link to view the production of the Teflon-patterned paper ).

"Converting ordinary paper to a synthesis platform is easy," says Deiss. "First, we draw a pattern on the computer and print it on an ordinary printer. Then, we add a sugar solution to an area we do not want modified, soak Teflon into the remaining areas, wash off the sugar, and voilà. We automated the entire process."

The Teflon barriers allow an excess of liquid to be delivered in each zone, generating a dynamic flow through the paper with mere gravity, and improving the mixing of reagents. When used for synthesis, the Teflon-patterned paper improves the yield of chemical reactions compared to synthesis on plain, non-patterned paper. The Derda group demonstrated it with the synthesis of peptides (short chain of amino acids) on paper and used the resulting sheet of 96 peptides to test which peptides will allow breast cancer cells to adhere and grow.

The research has been published on-line April 11, 2014 by a leading Chemistry journal, Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, which has cited it as a Hot Paper. Hot Papers are chosen by the journal's editors for their importance in a rapidly evolving field of high current interest.

But the researchers weren't done. The journal article also provides a "sneak preview" of the next phase of their work—in which plain old gravity is again the star (see video). They stacked up several layers of paper and dripped liquids from one test sheet into the layers below, performing multiple tests or paper-modification simultaneously.

"We no longer have to compromise quality and purity vs. synthesis conditions, cost and speed," confirms Derda. "By taking our minds off chemistry, we can focus on the next steps and use high-quality arrays of compounds to fuel our screen for protein inhibitors, drug leads and materials that can reprogram normal and cancerous cells."

The Alberta Glycomics Centre,, is an Alberta Innovates Centre for Research and Commercialization. The Centre uses glycomics to address complex health issues by exploring novel strategies to lead the development of vaccines, diagnostics and other medical applications. Applications include strategies to combat tuberculosis, pneumonia and other infectious diseases and food-borne pathogens. Glycomics is the study of the role of carbohydrates and carbohydrate-containing biomolecules in biological systems. Glycomics is expected to lead to the development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.

Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network,, brings together 28 academic researchers and more than 50 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from 11 universities, with industry and government partners. Sentinel operates with $7.5-million in funding over five years (2010-2015) from NSERC, and another $2.5-million and over $2-million (in-kind) from industry partners: SC Johnson, FPInnovations, Stora Enso, Cascades, FUJIFILM Dimatix, and Canadian government partners: NSERC and the National Research Council and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario leads the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network and hosts its administrative centre.

For Interviews please contact:

Dr. Frédérique T. Deiss
Post-doctoral Researcher in Derda's Group
University of Alberta
Department of Chemistry & Alberta Glycomics Centre
Edmonton, AB, Canada
Tel: 587-778-0270
[email protected]

Dr. Ratmir Derda
University of Alberta
Assistant Professor Department of Chemistry & Alberta Glycomics Centre
Edmonton, AB, Canada
Tel: 780-492-8370
[email protected]

Journal article  -

SOURCE Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network

Image with caption: "Flow of solvent through paper; automated deposition onto a 96-zone arrays of solutions with the excess volume confined to each zone; confocal microscopy images of cells in paper after peptide synthesis (left to right). (CNW Group/Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network)". Image available at:

Video with caption: "Flow of reagents through a stack of four Teflon-patterned paper arrays: adding solutions (here, dyes) in excess to the top paper and allow them to flow by simple gravity through the full stack, then adding an excess of solvent to wash them off.". Video available at:

Image with caption: "Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network (CNW Group/Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network)". Image available at:

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