New technique to speed up drug development

Scientists working at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France have developed a new technique that enables them to introduce up to 15 fluorescent markers to a mammalian cell in one go. They say their findings could help speed up drug development and screening. The study was funded in part by the P-CUBE (Protein production platforms) project, which has clinched EUR 6.6 million through the Research Infrastructures budget line of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

EMBL's Imre Berger previously developed a technique that allowed scientists to create the equivalent of a make-up brush that is applied only once and highlights different features simultaneously. So cells could be given fluorescent labels to mark various cellular components in different colours, for example blue for the nucleus, yellow for the tubulin (a component of the cell's scaffolding), red for the mitochondria, cyan for the membranes of vesicles called endosomes, and purple for the other membrane structures. This technology was created by Dr Berger as part of a method called MultiBac and used for expressing protein complexes in insect cells.

In this latest study, published in the journal Nature Communications, Dr Berger and Philipp Berger from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland joined forces to take this technology a step further, adopting the concept to mammalian cells like our own for the first time. This essentially involved rapidly engineering a single vector to deliver a theoretically unlimited number of foreign genes, to a cell.

To date, the scientists have successfully delivered up to 15 genes in this way. The protein encoded by each of those genes can carry a fluorescent label, so this makes multiple labelling much more efficient than previous methods. The new labelling technique for mammalian cells, called MultiLabel, could help make drug development and screening considerably faster, since it allows scientists to precisely label many cellular components involved in a given disease process and follow them all at the same time.

"The introduction of heterologous genetic information, particularly of multiple genes, into mammalian cells is a key technology in contemporary experimental biological research," the researchers said.

"The co-expression of fluorescently tagged sensors is required to simultaneously analyse multiple parameters in living cells and the co-expression of several proteins is necessary to manipulate cell fate in stem cell biology. Current technologies for multigene expression in mammalian cells are inefficient, inflexible and time-consuming."

The team explained that MultiLabel is "a novel and highly efficient modular plasmid-based eukaryotic expression system".

The P-CUBE project aims to provide greater, free access for European users to the most advanced techniques in cloning, expression, protein characterisation and crystallisation. To this end, the British and Swiss-based scientists involved in the project regularly share expertise to improve technologies and standardise procedures, with the ultimate aim of disseminating this expertise throughout Europe.

For more information, please visit:

Copyright ©European Communities, 2010
Neither the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, nor any person acting on its behalf, is responsible for the use, which might be made of the attached information. The attached information is drawn from the Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS). The CORDIS services are carried on the CORDIS Host in Luxembourg - http://cordis.europa.eu. Access to CORDIS is currently available free-of-charge.

Most Popular Now

Pfizer's elranatamab granted FDA Breakthrough Ther…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) announced its investigational cancer immunotherapy, elranatamab, received Breakthrough Therapy Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administrati...

Salvat Laboratories announces submission of New Dr…

Salvat Laboratories announced that it has submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA for the approval of the first ocular corticosteroid formulated in a nanoemulsi...

Bayer with continued strong performance

The Bayer Group maintained its strong business performance across all three divisions in the third quarter. "Despite rising inflation and global supply chain problems, we...

Vividion Therapeutics names Jenna Goldberg as Chie…

Vividion Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company utilizing novel discovery technologies to unlock high value, traditionally undruggable targets with precision the...

New insights on antibody responses to Omicron vari…

Knowing how well vaccination against one SARS-CoV-2 strain (with or without previous infection) counteracts infection with a different strain is a critical research quest...

Pfizer and BioNTech receive positive CHMP opinion …

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced a booster dose of their Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY® Original/Omicron ...

Sugar molecules as a target in cancer therapy

Cancer cells use sugar molecules on their surface to disable attacks by the body's immune system. Researchers at the University of Basel now report on how this mechanism ...

COVID vaccination improves effectiveness of cancer…

Patients with nasopharyngeal cancer are often treated with drugs that activate their immune system against the tumor. Until now, it was feared that vaccination against Co...

Making melanoma immortal: Pitt scientists discover…

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered the missing puzzle piece in the mystery of how melanoma tumors control their mortality. I...

New drug shows promise for fighting both COVID-19 …

While vaccination can provide life-saving protection against COVID-19, scientists are still searching for ways to treat severe infections, including in people who cannot ...

Study reveals vaccine confidence declined consider…

A new study suggests that, despite the success of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, vaccine confidence has declined significantly since the start of the pandemic. Re...

Sanofi and GSK's next-generation COVID-19 booster …

After the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion for VidPrevtyn® Beta, the vaccine was approved by t...