The Sooter Lab has two central research themes: in vitro selections and nanomaterials.
The goal of an in vitro selection is to isolate a molecular recognition element, a piece of DNA or protein that binds a target very tightly and specifically. The selection process is much like playing the lottery. If you want to be certain you have the one winning ticket, you buy all of the tickets. Similarly, we begin with a library of billions of different pieces of DNA or protein so that we can find the one that binds our target. These molecular recognition elements can be used to detect the presence of explosives or prostate cancer. They can also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.
Nanomaterials have amazing properties and are incorporated into many commercial products. While the body of literature is growing, we still have many questions about nanotube toxicity. Under what circumstances are nanomaterials toxic, slightly toxic, or completely safe? The nanomaterials that are safe may then be combined with molecular recognition elements and applied to diagnostic and therapeutic problems.