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Link Technologies Licenses Exciplex Probe Technology from U of Manchester

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This story was originally posted on Nov. 30.

Link Technologies, a reagent manufacturer based in Bellshill, UK, said today that it has taken an exclusive license to a highly sensitive fluorescent probe technology developed by researchers at the University of Manchester.

Under the terms of the agreement, Link will manufacture and sell diagnostic reagents based on the so-called exciplex technology, which is able to reduce the background fluorescent signal in nucleic acid assays in order to improve the detection sensitivity. The partners also agreed to collaborate to further develop the technology.

Financial terms of the licensing agreement, which the company signed with the university's technology transfer arm, University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited, were not disclosed. The university has licensed all patents for the technology to Link, and the company has also secured the rights to any intellectual property arising from the collaboration.

The technology, developed by Ken Douglas and Elena Bichenkova at the University of Manchester, uses two separate target-directed probes called exciprobes, which each have a different aromatic chemical group attached. When both probes bind to their targets, the chemical groups form an excited-state complex, or "exciplex," with an emission wavelength that is 100 to 150 nm longer than that of the unbound exciprobes.

According to a UMIP fact sheet on the technology, the approach provides less than 1 percent background signal as compared to 60 percent to 90 percent with conventional fluorescent dyes.

In addition, because the formation of the excited-state complex is distance-dependant, it is highly biospecific and sensitive to mismatches, "meaning that these probes are ideally suited to SNP detection," Link said in a statement.

The company said that in diagnostic applications, the modified oligonucleotides have been shown to discriminate DNA mutations at the level of PCR products and plasmid DNA.

John Bremner, business development director at Link, said in a statement that the partners plan to optimize the technology over the coming months, "allowing Link to launch a new range of innovative products targeted at diagnostic companies worldwide.”

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