UATEC - Unidade de Transferência de Tecnologia

Fluorescent compounds, methods of manufacturing and uses thereof

Posted by UATEC - Unidade de Transferência de TecnologiaResponsive · Patents for licensing · Portugal

Summary of the technology

A group of researchers from a Portuguese university developed a family of new fluorophores to be used in biological imaging, either in cells or in entire organisms, in fluorescence microscopy techniques, including live cell imaging. The fluorophores are not toxic to cells and organisms, and light up cells by binding to organelles such as the Golgi apparatus, nucleus, and particularly lipid droplets. Importantly, the fluorophores change color with the polarity of the environment.
The university is looking for companies that would be interested in developing this technology further through partnership, or in commercializing the probes through licensing or acquisition of the patent.

Main advantages of its use

The invention presents several advantages compared with the existing probes:

  • Very low price of production;
  • Easy to synthesize and scale up;
  • Very easy to use (simple protocol);
  • Very low toxicity to eukaryotic cells, which allow live cell imaging over an extended period of time;
  • Large Stokes’shift, and as a consequence a good signal to noise ratio;
  • Selective localization in cellular organelles, depending on the fluorophore and cell type;
  • High affinity to lipid droplets;
  • Changes color with the polarity of the environment (solvatochromism);
  • Blue-shifts with the increase of hydrophobicity (in opposition to Nile Red);
  • Can be used with blue emitting dyes as counterstaining;

Specifications

Many scientific research’s branches in the life sciences and health sciences make use of cell biology studies. In these, the ability to mark, distinguish, identify and characterize cells and subcellular compartments is instrumental in the acquisition of knowledge about the biogenesis, structure and function of cells, different subcellular organelles and its resident molecules. These studies generally make use of fluorophores.

With this invention from a Portuguese university, a family of fluorophores that mark cells and organelles has been prepared through an efficient and virtually costless synthesis, which can be easily scaled up. They present a large Stokes’ shift, and have an emission ranging from green to red depending on the polarity of their environment (solvatochromism). Particularly, they undergo a blue shift in their emission when in more lipophilic environment. They are highly membrane-permeant in live cultured cells (within 10-15 min), and are non-toxic to live cells and organisms, allowing to be used over an extended period of time (up to 48h).

Fluorophores can be used in cellular imaging, or imaging of entire organisms. When used in cells, they allow the visualization of the Golgi apparatus, or lipid droplets when cells are enriched in these. When used in zebrafish larvae, they allow the visualization of the fish bones (in orange-red), and of the fish muscular cells and fibers (in green). Importantly, the staining protocol is very fast, easy and straightforward.

Applications

Application for cell biology research, basic and applied to e.g. health sciences, and potentially diagnosis of diseases where the lipid environment is altered, particularly metabolic diseases and syndromes.

Intellectual property status

Pending patent.

Current development status

Existing laboratorial prototypes. Some proof-of-concept assays already performed for a small set of fluorophores

Desired business relationship

The university is looking for companies that would be interested in developing this technology further through partnership, or in commercializing the probes through licensing or acquisition of the patent.

Related keywords

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology Technology
  • Biochemistry / Biophysics Technology
  • In vitro Testing, Trials Technology
  • Biology / Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry / Biophysics Market
  • In vitro Testing, Trials Market
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology Market

About UATEC - Unidade de Transferência de Tecnologia

Technology Transfer Office from Portugal

The University of Aveiro is a young and innovative university, which fosters entrepreneurship and technology and knowledge transfer, with expertise in a wide range of knowledge areas namely IT, Life Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Health, Environmental Sciences), Nanotechnology and Materials Science, Mechanics, Physics, Mathematics, Building, Design and Management. UATEC is the Technology Transfer Office of University of Aveiro. This office engages in value adding activities such as start-up and spin-off creation, support to university-industry cooperation (sponsored research and consultancy services), IP protection and prosecution, licensing, marketing, among others. It covers four main interrelated functional areas – Intellectual Property Management, Licensing, Entrepreneurship, and Industry Liaison.

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