Guest post: SmartFlares fail to reflect their target transcripts levels

This is a guest post by Maria Czarnek and Joanna Bereta, who have just published the following article in Scientific Reports entitled SmartFlares fail to reflect their target transcripts levels.  We got the idea of using SmartFlare probes when working on generating knockout cells. In the era of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, the possibility of sorting out […]

SmartFlare controversy: independent confirmation of endosomal localization

Check this previous post for a quick summary of the SmartFlare controversy, or read all SmartFlare-related posts if you are really passionate. At the centre of the SmartFlare controversy is the rather simple question, from an experimental point of view, of how many Spherical Nucleic Acids (to use Chad Mirkin’s terminology), if any, escape the […]

How many people are using the #SmartFlares? Freedom of Information request provide insights

Quick summary of previous episodes for those who have not been following the saga: Chad Mirkin’s group developed a few years ago a technology to detect mRNAs in live cells, the nano-flares. That technology is currently commercialised by Merck under the name smartflares. For a number of reasons (detailed here), I was unconvinced by the […]

SmartFlare Maths

SmartFlare are nanoparticle sensors which are sold by Merck and are supposed to detect mRNA inside live cells. The technology has been developed by Chad Mirkin. In his papers, the nanoparticles are called Nano-Flares or Spherical Nucleic Acids. I am saying “supposed to” because the central question of how those sensors could possibly reach the […]

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 […]

Do nanoparticles deliver? Merck’s SmartFlares and other controversies

Originally posted on For Better Science:
A large body of scientific nanotechnology literature is dedicated to the biomedical aspect of nanoparticle delivery into cells and tissues. The functionalization of the nanoparticle surface is designed to insure their specificity at targeting only a certain type of cells, such as cancers cells. Other technological approaches aim at…

New data on SmartFlare – do they detect mRNA?

Originally posted on greenfluorescentblog:
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…

Are StickyFlares smarter than SmartFlares?

Update (19/08/2015): Dave Mason has posted a detailed critique of this paper at PubPeer Update (19/10/2015): We have submitted a response to this paper as a Letter to the Editor of PNAS. It is currently available as a preprint. Update (16/11/2015): Inder Verma, Editor of PNAS, has decided that our letter “does not contribute significantly […]

How smart are SmartFlares?

This post is co-authored by Raphaël Lévy and Dave Mason. Note: We contacted Chad Mirkin and EMD Millipore for comments. Chad Mirkin replied but did not allow me to share his comments as he prefers to discuss his work in peer reviewed manuscripts rather than blogs. EMD Millipore has provided a response (reproduced below) and is keen to further engage in […]

Three little (nano) controversies and their morals

This post is a translation of an article originally published in French in Médecine/Sciences. The Editorial of the same issue (also in French) by Pierre Corvol is entitled Scientific integrity: the need for a systemic approach (open access).  You can download a pdf of my article, or, read at the publisher’s website (subscription). For citation, please refer to the original […]