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Biological Separation
 
      
   The life sciences research involves complex structures and molecules associated with biological materials ranging from DNA, RNA, proteins and other molecules to the cell organelles to the tissues, up to the different types of organisms. It is with the isolation of biological materials that advances in medical diagnostics and proper treatment can be achieved. Proper isolation of biological materials finds applications in medical diagnostics and therapeutics, environmental monitoring, food processing, and other industrial purposes.  
   
    Isolation of biological molecules, such as DNA, RNA, proteins, and their subsequent analysis is the foundation of molecular biology. Subsequent analysis of nucleic acids is crucial to gene expression studies in basic research and in the medical field for diagnostic applications. Examples of diagnostic tools include those for detection of nucleic acid sequences from minute amounts of cells, tissues, and/or biopsy materials for the diagnosis of cancer or for detecting viral nucleic acids in blood or plasma. The efficiency in the separation, quantity, and quality of the nucleic acids isolated and purified from a sample is critical to the success of subsequent analyses.
    
    Separation of biological materials from a biological sample usually involves tedious steps that start from isolating the cell to lysis through mechanical action and/or chemical action followed by purification of the biological molecules. Conventional isolation of cells and biological molecules involves methods such as magnetic microbeads capture followed by lysis and cesium chloride density gradient centrifugation (which is time-consuming and expensive) or extraction with phenol (which is considered unhealthy for the user). For nucleic acid separation, ethanol precipitation is used to concentrate the nucleic acids that can result in lower yields.
   
    Ocean NanoTech has developed magnetic nanoparticles made of super-paramagnetic iron oxide (IO) nanocrystals that offer very efficient rapid capture of the targeted biological material.  The outermost layer of these IO nanocrystals are modified with streptavidin (Catalog # SHS), carboxyl groups (Catalog # SHP), or amines (Catalog # SHA) for easy conjugation to biological probes and minimize non-specific binding of unwanted materials.
 
    Ocean NanoTech's R&D is currently working on a new generation of magnetic separation method to enrich bacteria, stem cells, and tumor cells in close cooperation with our collaborators and the government agencies.  The R&D team is in the process of optimizing the physical and chemical properties of our IO nanocrystals for bulk production. Various types of surface coating strategies are being developed  to achieve the best coating strategy to achieve  high enrichment factor and high recovery rate of the target biological material. As part of these efforts, a permanent magnet with as high as 1.4 T magnetic field called SuperMag separatorTM  was developed at Ocean NanoTech. This SuperMag separatorTM is used with our 5 to 50 nm diameter super-paramagnetic iron oxide (IO) nanocrystals.