Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

5-2019

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.

Department

Chemical Engineering

Degree Program

JB Speed School of Engineering

Committee Chair

Gupta, Gautam

Committee Member

Keynton, Robert

Committee Member

Jaeger, Vance

Author's Keywords

Sol-gel; Biomolecule Storage; Hemoglobin Preservation; RNA Preservation; Silica Nanoparticle; Room temperature storage

Abstract

Unassisted, the lifetime of many proteins outside their natural environment is very short. Scientists generally need to extract the sample, often in remote locations, and then transport, isolate, and store such biospecimens relatively far from the point of origin in order to study them. Currently, the most commonly used methods for storage of biospecimens are cryopreservation or refrigeration which, though effective, have their fair share of flaws. Cryopreservation and refrigeration-based storage of biospecimens requires a great deal of space and other resources to be effective. Furthermore, the hardware required for cold storage does not transport well. These factors make such storage methods impractical for use in the field and even some laboratories[1-3]. Due to repeated strain on biomolecules from crystallization, rapid degradation occurs after repeated freezing and thawing; this problem could be avoided by storing specimens at ambient temperatures. Herein, we report a novel method for long-term room-temperature aqueous biomolecule storage utilizing rapidly fabricated silica sol-gel networks. By adjusting solution conditions such as acidity, salinity, buffer concentration, and silica density, it is possible to tailor sol-gel chemistry to create hospitable silica structures to support a variety of biomolecules. We have demonstrated the preservation of RNA and Hemoglobin samples for up to 28 days and 31 days respectively, under ambient conditions, using this technique. Upon coupling the amenability of the sol-gel structure with a contemporary rapid synthesis method, silica sol-gels become Capture and Release Gels for Optimized Storage(CaRGOS).

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