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Project TitleA Novel Recognition/Detection Technology for Diagnostics and Research
Track Code4394
Short Description

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is regulated by a complex and intricate network of intracellular structures that have a critical role in gene expression. Recent studies have shown that new intracellular structures have roles in regulating the processing of RNAs, and it is clear that during RNA processing and maturation, transcripts traffic through different parts of the cell. Intracellular movement or location of proteins can be observed by fusing the protein of interest to the green fluorescent protein, GFP, but there are currently no analogous simple and straightforward approaches to track RNA movement in living cells, and currently available approaches have critical limitations that have precluded their widespread use.


In an effort to create a system capable of following an RNA's travels in the cell, Dr. Samie Jaffrey, and his colleague at the Weill Cornell Medical College developed a novel non-toxic fluorescent detection system. It uses an aptamer that turns on the fluorescence of a small molecule when it binds to it non-covalently (see figure). When a plasmid that can express this aptamer joined to a sequence complementary to an RNA of interest and the incipient fluorophore are present in a cell, the fluorescent aptamer complex binds to the target RNA, thereby disclosing its location.


Further, the inventors have shown this fluorophore-binding aptamer can be linked to an aptamer that binds to another analyte - be it protein or small molecule - in a way that the complex only fluoresces when the analyte is present. Hence this system can detect various kinds of materials - nucleic acids, proteins, small molecules - both in vivo and in vitro.


Employing aptamers, it can be expressed directly in cells to detect intracellular analytes or it can be used in vitro to measure analytes in biological or other solutions. Aptamers are nucleic acid molecules developed to specifically bind to a target compound. Because aptamers, unlike antibodies, are made without using an animal's immune system, they can be developed more quickly, with a higher success rate and with improved specificity. This system will enable the rapid development of diagnostics for any desired biomarker and allows the detection of many small molecules and proteins, providing simple assays for drug screening, various field applications and facilitating many other environmental, research, and medical uses.

TagsAssays & Screens, Biotech Research & Production Tools, Diagnostic device platforms-components-method, life science, Contrast Agents, fluorescent probes, dyes
Posted DateJul 23, 2012 6:03 PM


Jeremy Paige
Samie Jaffrey

Additional Information


Licensing Contact

Dan-Oscar Antson