News Service


Ryszard Jankowiak, Ames Laboratory,(515) 294-4394
Gerald Small, Ames Laboratory, (515) 294-3859
Anita Rollins, IPRT Public Affairs, (515) 294-1113
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University-U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory technology, used to study how cancer- producing compounds damage cellular DNA, has been combined with a separation technique to form a powerful laboratory tool. The new technique has been cited as one of the 100 best new products by R&D Magazine.

Ames Laboratory researchers Ryszard Jankowiak and Gerald Small, who also is a distinguished professor of chemistry at ISU, joined their fluorescence line-narrowing spectroscopy (FLNS) technique with capillary electrophoresis (CE), a widely used analytical chemistry method. The award-winning technique was developed with Peter Shields of Janis Research Co. Inc., Wilmington, Mass.

The R&D 100 Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the top 100 products of technological significance that were marketed or licensed during the previous calendar year. All of the 100 award winners will be honored at a banquet in Chicago on Sept. 24. This year's R&D 100 Award brings the total to 19 awards given to Iowa State since 1984.

"We are delighted to have earned another R&D 100 Award," said Iowa State University President Martin Jischke. "These awards show that Iowa State and the Ames Laboratory not only do excellent basic science, but also excel in making science practicable in today's world."

While CE and FLNS are powerful techniques for distinguishing between and characterizing molecules, each has certain limitations when used to study complex biological mixtures. Together, the limitations are eliminated, providing a powerful tool for chemical structural characterization.

The CE-FLNS technique has been used to identify the byproducts present in solutions like urine when there is a reaction between cancer-producing pollutants, such as those found in cigarette smoke, and cellular DNA. The identification of these byproducts, called DNA adducts, is important to understanding the first step of a cancer -- the chemical attack of carcinogens on DNA.

Positive identification of CE-separated adducts is possible with the structural information obtained using FLNS. The key to combining the two techniques was the construction of a cryostat, a compact cooling device that in less than a minute can cool the compounds from room temperature to -450 F, which is necessary for use of FLNS.

The power of FLNS was demonstrated in work with the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It led to the discovery of a new pathway to DNA damage by chemical carcinogens.

"The use of CE-FLNS makes such research easier and misidentification of analytes far less likely," said Jankowiak. "Its on-line capability is especially important when dealing with minute quantities of biological materials."

While CE-FLNS technique has only been used to study cancer from chemicals so far, Jankowiak and Small expect it will be used in other areas of biological research, as well as forensic science. The patent-pending technology is available for licensing and is being investigated by several companies.

Ames Laboratory is a member of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, a consortium of research, technology development, technical assistance and technology transfer centers at Iowa State University.


Iowa State homepage

University Relations,
Copyright © 1997, Iowa State University, all rights reserved
Revised 7/17/98