NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-B1.03-9171 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 033834)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Bioscience and Engineering
PROPOSAL TITLE:Low-power, Confocal Imaging of Protein Localization in Living Cells (7214-150)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Physical Sciences Inc
20 New England Business Ctr
Andover ,MA 01810 - 1077
(978) 689 - 0003

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Anthony  A Ferrante
20 New England Business Ctr
Andover ,MA  01810 -1077
(978) 689 - 0003
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The proposed technology genetically labels intracellular structures and visualizes protein interactions in living cells using a compact, confocal microscope with solid-state laser illumination. The proposed innovation will allow advanced study of cellular biology in microgravity environments. The recently introduced reef coral proteins fluoresce over a broader range of wavelengths than GFP and its derivatives. This allows simultaneous fluorescence labeling of three, and possibly four, cellular constituents simultaneously. The proposed confocal microscope will be based entirely on compact, low-power solid-state laser technology and will allow high-resolution imaging of structures within living cells in three colors simultaneously at standard video frame rates. As part of this innovation we will develop a 594 nm solid state laser for improved resolution of HcRed, the most red-shifted of the reef coral proteins. In Phase I we will set up a biological model that incorporates three different protein fusions. Phase I microscopy studies will determine the specifications for spectral and spatial resolution for the Phase II device. That Phase II device will comprise a compact system that uses low-power solid-state laser illumination. The device will have broad applicability for space cell biology research and also for terrestrial-based cell biology research.

We expect that NASA will adopt our proposed modifications to the CSU-10 confocal imaging system. That flight-approved system has already been delivered to NASA and is envisioned as a component of the Light Microscopy Module for the International Space Station. Our Phase I and Phase II research will provide significantly enhanced capabilities to those systems which will increase their capabilities in the area of functional imagery by permitting researchers to monitor the intracellular location of up to three cellular proteins fused to Fluorescent Reef Coral Proteins (RCFPs) simultaneously, at standard video frame rates.

We anticipate that the successful completion of Phase I and Phase II research will have several non-NASA commercial implications. First, we expect that this work will increase the adoption of the RCFPs by terrestrial researchers in many fields. The RCFPs will provide enhanced ability for simultaneously monitoring expression of multiple genes. We also anticipate that the 594-nm laser that will be developed in Phase II will be adopted for both imaging systems and for flow cytometry applications. There is currently no commercially available, solid-state laser with an emission wavelength between 532-nm and 635-nm.