Brown Engineering professors Dan Harris, Jacob Rosenstein, Anubhav Tripathi and Roberto Zenit, are among the 15 teams of Brown faculty researchers receiving funds from a newly created University seed fund. Brown established the fund to fast track innovative research proposals that directly address the urgent needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $350,000 was awarded to support research with the potential for significant and rapid impact on human health and research that could create products of immediate need for the healthcare system in Rhode Island and the nation.
Tripathi is teaming with Alpert Medical School professor and infectious disease expert Rami Kantor, M.D., to develop a molecular surveillance tool and capacity to monitor spread of the virus regionally and beyond. Its goal is understanding if, and how, genotypic variants of SARS-CoV-2 might impact patient outcome; the investigation of the viral mutability under treatment selection pressure; and transmission dynamics of the virus in Rhode Island and beyond, informing public health interventions… Continue reading.
Abstract: Extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs) have the potential to provide the entire fetal genome for prenatal testing. Previous studies have demonstrated the presence of EVTs in the cervical canal and the ability to retrieve a small quantity of these cells by cervical sampling. However, these small quantities of trophoblasts are far outnumbered by the population of cervical cells in the sample, making isolation of the trophoblasts challenging. We have developed a method to enrich trophoblast cells from a cervical sample using differential settling of the cells in polystyrene wells. We tested the addition of small quantities of JEG-3 trophoblast cell line cells into clinical samples from standard Pap tests taken at 5 to 20 weeks of gestation to determine the optimal work flow. We observed that a 4 min incubation in the capture wells led to a maximum in JEG-3 cell settling on the surface (71 ± 10% of the initial amount added) with the removal of 91 ± 3% of the cervical cell population, leading to a 700% enrichment in JEG-3 cells. We hypothesized that settling of mucus in the cervical sample affects the separation. Finally, we performed a proof-of-concept study using our work flow and CyteFinder cell picking to verify enrichment and pick individual JEG-3 and trophoblast cells free of cervical cells. Ultimately, this work provides a rapid, facile, and cost-effective method for enriching native trophoblasts from cervical samples for use in subsequent non-invasive prenatal testing using methods including single cell picking… Continue reading.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Ligases are enzymes that serve critical functions in cells, helping to fuse together broken strands of DNA and RNA. These enzymes are also important bioengineering tools, useful in genetic sequencing, mutation detection and other applications.
Researchers in Brown University’s School of Engineering have now developed a new RNA ligase for laboratory use. Derived from a microbe that thrives near volcanic thermal vents, the new ligase, called KOD1Rnl, can work at the high temperature desirable for some laboratory procedures. It’s also the most active in the presence of certain RNA structures, called templates, which makes it useful for RNA sequencing and detection.
“This new ligase has all the properties we think are desirable for manipulating RNA,” said Lei Zhang, a biomedical engineering graduate student at Brown and lead author of a paper describing the work. “We think this could be a useful tool to add to the biomedical engineering toolbox.”
The paper is published in the journal RNA Biology.
Zhang works in the lab of Anubhav Tripathi, professor of engineering at Brown and senior author on the paper. “The focus of our group has always been in the engineering of medical diagnostics and molecular therapies, particularly dealing with RNA,” Tripathi said. “In many recent studies, we engineered novel molecular assays and platforms to rapidly detect viral infections and the presence of viral mutations. While we design and build the microfluidic platforms and the assays in-house, we always relied on off-the-shelf reagents to power these assays. As our designs became more complex, we grew increasingly frustrated at the lack of specialized enzymes, such as ligases.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Anubhav Tripathi, Ph.D., Professor of Engineering and of Division of Biology and Medicine, School of Engineering, Brown University, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Tripathi was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For advancing understanding biochemical and biomolecular processes in microchip environments.