A major future challenge in biology and medicine is to study biomolecules in their normal context in cells and tissues - in situ - to determine their sub-cellular localization, how they interact with other molecules and participate in signalling and control of cellular function in health and disease.
The main purpose of this project is to develop new analytical procedures for the study of nucleic acids and proteins in situ, and to illustrate how they can enable novel biological studies for improved therapeutic targeting using cancer as the primary application area.
The methods that will be developed are based on "proximity ligation" and "padlock probing", which are the first technologies to meet this challenge and to offer the sensitivity and specificity required for detailed studies of single bio-molecules in situ. We will refine these technologies and develop a spectrum of reagents for the analysis of specific markers of particular interest in oncology. Furthermore, software and algorithms for automatic user-independent in situ image analysis of "digital" single molecule events will be developed.
These methods, reagents and algorithms will then be used by scientists within the project to verify the value of such systems in biological studies. The assays will primarily be used in a research setting, but their utility in diagnostic settings will also be explored. A carefully selected interdisciplinary consortium of world class researchers and companies from several European countries are joining forces for the execution of this project. Four companies, of which three are SMEs, are taking leading roles in the project underlining the commercial relevance of the project.
The results of the project will constitute an important foundation for products addressing significant market needs and thereby allowing the participating SMEs to build sustainable and successful businesses in the forefront of biotechnology.
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