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Metal chelation-based fluorescent probes for protein or other biomolecule labeling in cells

Research Tools and Methods

Background and Market Opportunity

  • The currently available and widely used metal based small molecule fluorescent probes are FlAsH or its analogues such as ReAsH, SplAsH etc.
  • Though, these probes must be used with EDT to increase rate of labeling and to reduce the background.
  • Further, they use arsenic and can only label tetracysteine fused proteins.
  • Arsenic is toxic to human, and is also an environmental contaminant. Moreover, tetracysteine motif is not common tetracysteine motif is not as common as His-tag to be genetically fused to proteins in cell biology and biomedical research.
  • Therefore, extensive research has been carried out to image His-tagged proteins, however these probes have poor permeability.

Technology Overview and Key Advantages

Technology Section Slider 1
  • The invention describes metal chelation-based fluorescent probes for imaging intracellular proteins or other biomolecules in live cells to monitor their biological events.
  • The probes uses nickel(II) and nitrogen containing ligand(s) to label poly-histidine-tagged proteins/biomolecules or endogenous metal-binding proteins.
  • They also are able to covalently bind to labeled proteins, enabling further protein identification.




  • High permeability to cell membrane.
  • Doesn't require support of penetrating peptide, catalyst, or other chemicals to enter the cell.
  • Lower cost.
  • Higher binding affinity because of the introduction of a second binding site.
  • Higher signal intensity because of closer proximity to the interested protein.
  • Less toxic than the arsenic type probes like FlAsH and ReAsH.
  • Simple synthetic route.

Potential Product and Applications

  • Probes for visualization for protein expression and purification in biology and biomedical research.
  • Probes for visualization and identification of metalloproteomes in a high-throughput manner.

Development Status and IP Strength

  • Granted Patent in Australia, issued on 14 September, 2017.
  • Undergoing examination in China, US, Hong Kong, Japan,  and Canada.
  • Prototype available.

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