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Darryl J. Bornhop


Research Professor

Analytical Chemistry

Our group interests center around multidisciplinary bioanalytical and biomedical research:

  • The application of lasers to nanoscale chemical and biochemical analysis, and the use of micro-fluidics for onchip patterning, high throughput screening, proteomics and point of care analysis.
  • The synthesis, characterization, and application of exogenous markers (particularly multi-modal signaling agents) for early disease detection, diagnosis, and in-vitro assays.

Back Scattering Interferometry ( BSI ) 
Our group has developed a unique sensor, the Back Scattering Interferometor ( BSI ) and pioneered its use. This new Technology was reported in Science. For the first time, free-solution, label free detection of the interaction of molecules in a micro-chip format with zeptomole sensitivity is possible. BSI is ideally suited for measuring molecular interaction kinetics and performing quantitative, end point assays. The BSI platform can be used to discover new biomarkers, rapidly develop assays, and run routine / quantitative molecular based assays in seconds, at picomolar concentrations in either free-solution or surface-bound, label free modes. The BSI platform consists of a simple optical train employing a helium-neon laser like those used in grocery store scanners, a mirror, a CCD detector like those used in digital cameras and a special microfluidic chip.

Molecular Imaging/Chemical Synthesis 
Multiple targets and various approaches to signaling and/or therapeutic intervention are under investigation. A main target of interest is the 18 kD protein, the Peripheral Benzodiazepine Receptor ( PBR ). PBR is found primarily in the mitochondria and is known to be associated with responsiveness to reactive oxygen species, apoptosis and steroidogenesis. PBR expression is upregulated in some cancers, and its density has been correlated with metabolic status of the cell. These observations make PBR an attractive target for the delivery of contrast agents and therapeutics to diseased tissue. Recently we prepared a PBR targeted imaging agent (1) {Eu-PK11195, Figure 1} based on our relatively unique lanthanide chelate chemistry (2). The lanthanides are brightly luminescent, show promise for early cancer detection (3) and can even be used as multi modal agents by simple exchange of the chelated lanthanide ion. In-vitro and in-vivo investigations along with new synthetic methodologies are being developed in our laboratory. Some of these new agents have also demonstrated promise as in-vitro diagnostic stains for use in histopathology. In addition, we are developing near-infrared fluorochromes (4), PET agents, and MR signaling agents that are smart, can precipitate selectively or can provide both a signature and a therapeutic effect. Also under intense investigation are the unique spectroscopic properties of the lanthanide chelates.