This week we feature the Nanobiotechnology Research Group at Yeditepe University (Turkey)
The Nanobiotechnology Group at Yeditepe University was established towards the end of 2004 by Prof. Dr. Mustafa Culha. When Dr. Culha was offered a faculty position at the Genetics and Bioengineering Department, he had the opportunity to implement the idea of interfacing the living and non-living worlds and to investigate their interactions using spectroscopic and imaging techniques. Since he had previous experience with several surface phenomena such as separations and sensing, he started to gather the necessary tools together to form the basis of the group. Now, the group is consistently growing with an average number of graduate students of 12 now.
The group’s research interest spans from detection and identification of microorganisms and biologically relevant molecules such as proteins using plasmonic techniques, more specifically Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), to the synthesis of novel nanoparticles and their assembly at interfaces. Since the goal of synthesis of novel nanoparticles is to explore their medical and sensing applications, the investigation of their toxicity also falls into the research interest of the group.
The group has recently reported novel approaches applicable for the solution of many real world problems. In one case, the utility of SERS for microorganism identification and discrimination at a clinical setting by obtaining reproducible spectra from microorganisms was demonstrated. The possibility of using SERS for identification of healthy tissue and tumors was also demonstrated. Another application of SERS under investigation is the identification of biomacromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Therefore, the label-free detection of proteins using SERS is an ongoing effort of the group. More recently, the group used a novel approach to be able to identify proteins even in mixtures using “convective-assembly” and SERS. The group also reported the preparation of biomacromolecule-mediated core Au-Ag shell nanostructures as SERS labels in sensing and imaging applications.
The toxicity of nanomaterials is now a public concern and the possible hazardous effects of these novel materials must carefully be evaluated. The group intensively works on the understanding of the toxicity of nanomaterials by evaluating the current testing procedure and developing new ones. In one recent report, the decrease in toxicity of silver nanoparticles upon their modification with biomacromolecules was demonstrated. The increased cellular uptake of lactose-modified silver nanoparticles by cancerous cell lines was also observed.
One of the greatest challenges in nanotechnology is the assembly of nanoparticles in a controlled manner. To that end, the group conducts research for the self-assembly of nanoparticles using biomacromolecules like DNA and peptides. The creation of these self-assembled structures on surfaces and in suspension holds great promise for many future applications.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the research projects, the group interacts with other national university research groups including Bilkent University, İstanbul Technical University, Cukurova University and Koc University and international groups at Harvard University, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Oakridge National University, and Duke University.
In the future, the main nanotechnology avenue will be the self-assembly of nanoparticles and nanostructures into higher well-defined organizations such as nano-robots and delivery systems. With the successful combination of nanotechnology and micro-fluidics technology, miniaturization will be more coherent so that there will be a dramatic effect on current molecular biology research, which will eventually result with significant improvements in medical sciences.
1. S. Keskin; M. Kahraman; M.Çulha Chemical Communications 47 (12), pp. 3424-3426, 2011.
2. Kahraman M, Sur I, Culha M “Label-Free Detection of Proteins from Self-Assembled Protein-Silver Nanoparticle Structures using Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering” Analytical Chemistry, 82 (18), 7596-7602, 2010.
3. I. Sur, D. Cam, M. Kahraman, A. Baysal and M. Culha “Interaction of multi-functional silver nanoparticles with living cells” Nanotechnology, 21 (17), Article Number: 175104, 2010.
4. M. Kahraman, Ö. Aydın, M. Çulha, “Oligonucleotide Mediated Ag- Au Core-Shell Nanoparticles” Plasmonics, 4(4), 293-301, 2009.
Prof. Dr. Mustafa Çulha
Genetics and Bioengineering Dept.
Faculty of Engineering
Kayisdagi/Kadikoy, Istanbul, 34755 Turkey