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Award-winning research on DNA probes just published in Canadian Journal of Chemistry

Canadian Society of Chemistry's 2014 Fred Beamish Award was awarded to professor Juewen Liu

Canadian Science Publishing (NRC Research Press)

The 2014 Fred Beamish Award was awarded to Professor Juewen Liu (Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo). The Award Lecture titled "Lanthanide-dependent RNA-cleaving DNAzymes as metal biosensors" is published today in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry.

Sponsored by the Canadian Society of Chemistry (CSC) Analytical Chemistry Division, the Fred Beamish Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates innovation in research in the field of analytical chemistry, where the research is anticipated to have significant potential for practical applications.

Dr. Juewen Liu is a professor of chemistry at the University of Waterloo. He is also affiliated with the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) and his current research involves biosensor development using DNA for target recognition.

Professor Juewen Liu's lab has successfully accomplished the task of carrying out combinatorial selection to isolate lanthanide-dependent RNA-cleaving DNAzymes. They have developed a group of new DNA probes that are highly sensitive and specific to lanthanide ions. Lanthanide ions are known as "industrial vitamins" and they increase materials performance with a small amount of doping.

These new DNA probes can potentially be used to develop a biosensor array for lanthanide and other metal detection. These DNA molecules have catalytic activity (known as DNAzymes) and Liu's studies indicate that lanthanide-dependent DNAzymes may have different properties from existing examples.

These new DNAzymes will allow mechanistic studies to gain insights into DNA/metal interactions. These lanthanide-dependent DNAzymes were isolated using a method called in vitro selection, where a large DNA library is exposed to the target metal ion and active sequences are amplified . Liu's lab is searching for a suite of such probes and improving detection methods. The ultimate goal is to develop easy-to-use test strips similar to litmus paper for lanthanide and heavy metal detection in water.

The paper published today in the Canadian Journal of Chemistry reflects the main content of the Fred Beamish Award presentation delivered at the 2014 Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference in Vancouver.


The award lecture is available open access online at:

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