New method for peptide separation attracts international interest


Based on Arne Tiselius' Nobel Prize-winning method for protein separation, Erik Jansson and Jordan Aerts at Uppsala University have developed a cost-effective, less temperature-sensitive technique for separating peptides that is already attracting great interest in the world of science.

PhD Student Jordan Aerts working on the new method for separating peptides
PhD Student Jordan Aerts working on the new method for separating peptides

Separation of proteins has a historically prominent position at Uppsala University. Here, Nobel laureates The Svedberg and Arne Tiselius shared a vision to isolate the individual substances in blood, and with electrophoresis – a method that makes use of differences in electrical charge – Tiselius finally succeeded in separating the proteins in blood without destroying the molecules. His advances were further refined by Stellan Hjertén and over time gained decisive importance in the development of Sweden's biochemical oriented industry.

“Today, scientists use liquid chromatography to separate peptides for structural studies. But this is a costly technology that is also poorly compatible with the low temperature necessary when handling proteins. Therefore, we have returned to Hjertén's method and with certain technical modifications made it applicable in a field where our innovation is likely to be of great benefit,” says Erik Jansson, Associate senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences.

In collaboration with PhD student Jordan Aerts, Erik Jansson has constructed a cost-effective machine for capillary electrophoresis, in which molecules with different charges are separated through a thin glass capillary. The initial tests with focus on hemoglobin generated positive results and the method was recently published in scientific magazine Analytical Chemistry.

Jordan Aerts, PhD student
Jordan Aerts, PhD student

“We have built the instrument with separate, relatively cheap components, and making new use of Hjertén's method, the cooling we add to the process is merely to our advantage. When presenting our project at an international conference in the spring of 2022, it aroused great enthusiasm, and when our article was published in Analytical Chemistry, we received positive response from numerous leading names in our field, so our innovation obviously responds to a great scientific need,” states Jordan Aerts.

The new instrument is currently up and running at Professor Per Andrén's facility for mass spectrometric imaging at the Uppsala Biomedical Center, but Erik Jansson and Jordan Aerts both identify potential for further development.

“Our article in Analytical Chemistry proves that our concept is applicable in a variety of areas and we are already accepting proposals for scientific collaborations. Still, we see even greater future opportunities, and will initially prioritize to increase the capacity in terms of the number of peptides we are able to separate and in parallel refine the utilization of the molecules we isolate,” says Jordan Aerts.




Erik JanssonErik Jansson
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences

Jordan AertsJordan Aerts
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences

Text & photo: Magnus Alsne

More news

Last modified: 2022-11-08