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Intrinsic fluorescence of proteins as a medical diagnostic tool


A novel method of early diagnostics of cataract has been developed by scientists of DMG Biophotonics in collaboration with scientists of Heriot Watt University and application team of Edinburgh Instruments. The method relies on the quantification of fluorescent post-translational modifications in the eye lens proteins as Hydroxytryptophan (OH-Trp), N-Formyl-kynurenine (NFK), Kynurenine (Kyn), Hydroxy-kynurenine (OH-Kyn) and Argpyrimidine. Concentrations of these fluorescent markers of cataract were determined semi-quantitatively by a decomposition of fluorescence spectra of solubilised eye lens protein samples measured in FLS980 double monochromator spectrofluorometer at red-edge excitation of Tryptophan.

The proposed method enables monitoring conformational changes in the eye lens at the latent phase of cataractogenesis  at the molecular level. Elucidation of molecular mechanisms leading to protein modifications and aggregation can facilitate a development of therapeutic treatment of cataract and other protein mis-folding diseases.

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