Deciphering the code of life has sparked one of the biggest scientific endeavours in human history. Today, 18 years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, databases around the globe host over a million genomes. Surprisingly, one of the most important results that has emerged from this abundance of genetic information is how diverse and complex the processes are that control the constant regeneration, preservation, and adaptation of life. Understanding the relationships between cellular genotype and phenotype is therefore of fundamental importance in developmental biology as well as in the biomedical sciences.
Many molecular mechanisms that shape our body during our life are still largely un-known due to the limitations of current sequencing technologies which can only glimpse a single moment in time. In stark contrast, biological cells constantly monitor their function and can, if needed, quickly adjust to changes in their environment by the transfer of information between the nucleus and the cellular protein machinery in form of RNA. Yet despite their essential function no technique can record these highly dynamic profiles of intracellular RNA. Gathering transcriptomic profiles from intact cells and within living organisms therefore represents a major challenge for any existing sequencing and sensing technology.
Here, HYPERION introduces an entirely new concept of optical sequencing to detect transcriptomic information in real time and inside living biological cells. It is based on ultra-sensitive plasmonic nanolasers that combine recent advancements in extreme optics with a new concept to spatially confine RNA molecules. These lasers could be adapted to sense other biomolecules and mark the beginning of a new era in intracellular biosensing. Like the titan god of light, supposed to bring mankind the gift of sight, HYPERION will exploit the unrivalled precision of laser light to uncover the processes that shape life on the molecular level.
Fields of science
- engineering and technologyenvironmental biotechnologybiosensing
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesbiochemistrybiomoleculesproteins
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesdevelopmental biology
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesgeneticsRNA
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesgeneticsgenomes
- natural sciencesphysical sciencesopticslaser physics
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme