New data on SmartFlare – do they detect mRNA?

Thank you Gal for providing the first peer review of this paper. As mentioned in my post, this is a scientific investigation as well as an experiment in new ways of doing, sharing and evaluating science. I am very grateful for your contribution, coming just 24 hours after initial publication, as it contributes to the success of the latter experiment as well as provides opportunities to improve our paper. We will of course respond to your detailed comments soon!


Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post regarding my concerns with SmartFlare, supposedly a novel method for live imaging of RNA in cells.

In a nutshell, SmartFlare are gold nanoparticles covered in oligos specific to a certain mRNA of interest. Supposedly, cells internalize these particles and, once the mRNA hybridize to the oligo, a complementary fluorecently labeled oligo is being unquenchhed and “flares”, indicating the present of said mRNA.

You can read about my concerns in that older post, but apparently I wasn’t the only one concerned about their validity.

Raphael Levy from U. of Liverpool (UK) was concerned as well. He endeavored into an open science project to try and answer his concerns (which is why I allow myself to openly review his paper).

Raphael’s concerns were that these gold nanoparticles are maintained in endosomes and do not reach the “cytoplasm” where mRNAs reside. Since he…

View original post 917 more words

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