Lab Times: “Flare up over SmartFlares”

Stephen Buckingham interviewed me for Lab Times

On the face of it, Millipore’s SmartFlares are meant to be a tool cell biologists dream of – a way of measuring levels of specific RNA in real time in living cells. But does it really work? Raphaël Lévy and Gal Haimovich are in doubt.

Raphaël Lévy, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool, UK, was so unconvinced about SmartFlares that he decided to put the technique directly to the test (The Spherical Nucleic Acids mRNA Detection Paradox, Mason et al. ScienceOpen Research). As a result, Lévy has found himself at the centre of a row; not only over whether the technique actually does the job but as to whether it can actually work, at all – even in principle. Lab Times asked Lévy why he is in doubt that SmartFlares really work.

Lab Times:  What’s all the fuss about SmartFlares?

Read it all here (page 50-51).

I can’t resist also quoting this bit of pf the final paragraph…

In interview, Lévy is reasonable and measured in tone. But he is no stranger to controversy and can deliver fierce polemic with style.

If you have not yet, you should also check Leonid Schneider’s earlier and more complete investigation.

One comment

  1. The comment in Lab Times about publishing in chem journals and not know the biology was very interesting to me. Mirkin has been very aggressive about device invention and device implications of his papers for the last 20 years.

    But if you are going to be so self promotional about your work and so claiming of its applications, the least to ask is that you have someone knowledgeable vet your claims. E.g. if you think you have a new superconductivity effect, have a smart physicist murder board it for you. It’s not even asking Mirkin to be an expert on bio or physics or whatever he claims his colloids can do, but just asking that he have the intellectual maturity to know his blind spots and pull in the right expert. And NOT someone to validate him, but to test the heck out of things…to try his absolute hardest to INVALIDATE him. Because this sort of critical testing makes it more likely that his ideas really are valid and that he has not missed something obvious.


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