WARF: P02102US

Microwave Dielectric Spectroscopy Method and Device


Daniel van der Weide, Kimberly Taylor

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method of using dielectric spectroscopy to detect conformational changes in proteins.
OVERVIEWProteins change conformation in solution for a variety of reasons, including events such as ligand binding. Most researchers use simple and readily available optical means to measure protein conformational changes; however, these methods typically require large volumes of highly concentrated proteins. Techniques are also available for explicitly determining protein structure, such as NMR or X-ray diffraction, but these direct methods are time-consuming and complex.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a method of using dielectric spectroscopy to detect protein conformational changes. This alternative method relies on the fact that proteins in solution are surrounded by one or more shells of “bound” water. In response to changes in a protein’s conformation, bound water is released or rearranged, causing a change in the solution’s permittivity that can be easily measured by using this invention.

Previous dielectric spectroscopy methods have not been widely implemented because they involve complicated analysis. In this invention, data analysis is as simple as in conventional optical spectroscopy. In addition, no labeling of receptor or ligand is required for detection.
  • Detecting conformational changes in proteins, such as ligand binding to a receptor
  • Data collection and analysis are significantly simplified since time-to-frequency conversions are not necessary.
  • Doesn’t require receptor or ligand labeling for detection and analysis
  • Can be used simultaneously with conventional optical methods such as UV/VIS spectroscopy
  • May be miniaturized and integrated into semiconductor chips, allowing placement of antennas into environments not suitable for conventional optical measurements
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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