Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Department of Cancer Biology and material scientists from the University of Houston are using nanotubes to examine the regulation of proteins involved in the initiation of cancer and cardiovascular, neurological, and endocrine diseases. The team is designing and testing new enrichment materials to further enhance the understanding of changes in protein phosphorylation, a central regulatory mechanism for the body's cells and biological processes.

The study of cellular phosphorylation of proteins, or phosphoproteomics, is typically done by separating and categorizing the proteins by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

The mesoporous titania particles used to enrich the phosphopeptides, however, are expensive. The researchers tried a new approach: titanium-wire-based titania nanotubes.

Titania nanotubes on metal wire provide comparable efficacy for enrichment of phosphopeptides. The ability to vary the length and the size of the nanotubes also provides further possibilities.