CURRENT ISSUE

Microfluidics: Mapping DNA-binders

SMiLE-seq, © Alina Isakova/EFPL

Scientists at EPFL in Lausanne have developed a semi-automated technology that may be a game-changer by making the characterisation of the 2,000 DNA-binding proteins much faster, more accurate, and efficient. 

A patent on microfluidics-based ligand enrichment followed by sequencing has been filed, and the group, headed by Bart Deplancke, aims to commercialise the findings. “Right now, we are exploring different commercialisation options,” group leader Deplancke told European Biotechnology, including licencing and spinning out a company. Using SMiLE-seq, they have already analysed more than 60 transcription factors from humans and model organisms (Nature Methods, doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4143). The process cuts the time for transcription factor identification from days to less than an hour. If SMiLESeq could also be applied to chromatin IP experiments, the technology would open up huge commercial potential.