das glasperlenspiel

micrograph of 5-micron silica beadsThis could move biology forward in the same way (that is, to the same extent) that PCR did. Chemists at UC Berkely and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have devised a novel method of measuring protein-protein interactions at cell membranes. Microscopic glass beads are coated with artificial membranes in which functional receptor molecules are embedded, and the behaviour of the beads in response to the presence of various binding partners in the surrounding solution is monitored. From the Nature article (vol 427, pp. 139 – 141):

The behaviour of a colloidal system is driven by the pair interaction potential between particles. In the case of membrane-derivatized silica beads, the pair potential is dominated by membrane