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New Centre of Excellence in Dynamic Single-Molecule Analysis for Accelerated Drug Discovery

last modified Jun 28, 2018 03:22 PM
LUMICKS collaborates with AstraZeneca and our Department to form the first ever Centre of Excellence for Dynamic Single-Molecule Analysis for Accelerated Drug Discovery and Biology.

LUMICKS, a world leader in dynamic single-molecule analysis, has partnered with AstraZeneca and our Department to form the ‘Centre of Excellence for Dynamic Single-Molecule Analysis for Accelerated Drug Discovery and Biology’, the first of its kind worldwide. As part of the collaboration, a C-Trap™ optical tweezers–fluorescence microscope has been installed at the University of Cambridge and will be used by AstraZeneca, University of Cambridge research groups and LUMICKS, to provide new insights in biology and early-stage drug discovery research.

LUMICKS’ technology allows for analysis of complex dynamic details related to the behaviour and interaction of single molecules, allowing the Centre to investigate both the fundamental cause of diseases and potential for drug optimization. This collaboration aims to generate data that will validate the use of dynamic single-molecule technology for biomedical and pharmaceutical research and potential applications for accelerating drug discovery.

Olivier Heyning, CEO of LUMICKS commented: “Establishing the first ever Centre of Excellence in Cambridge is an important step in introducing the power of dynamic single-molecule analysis to the biomedical and pharmaceutical research communities. Our tools enable scientists and pharmacologists to analyse the mechanistic details of processes underlying health and disease, with or without a small molecule drug lead being identified. This paves the way for the design of novel, more efficient strategies for highly-targeted drug discovery, and the selection of higher quality drug leads.”

Dr. Geoffrey Holdgate, Principal Scientist, Discovery Sciences at AstraZeneca said: “C-Trap is a unique and powerful tool that could help us unravel precise molecular mechanisms of diseases and the mode of action of lead compounds. We are excited to be the first pharmaceutical company to use this technology and look forward to working with LUMICKS to validate the potential of single molecule analysis to enhance the drug discovery process.” 

Professor Luca Pellegrini, Group Leader in our Department said: “This is a great opportunity for researchers across the University to explore complex molecular interactions and gain access to novel dynamic single molecule information regarding the workings of important biomolecular processes, especially in relation to the origin of diseases.”

In addition to installing the C-Trap™ system, LUMICKS will provide on-site support to Centre participants, as well as an application scientist who will work with the participants to create standardized and robust single-molecule analysis workflows.


The C-Trap™ is the world’s first instrument that allows simultaneous manipulation and visualization of molecular interactions in real-time. It combines high-resolution optical tweezers, confocal microscopy or STED nanoscopy with an advanced microfluidics system in a truly integrated and correlated solution. Using LUMICKS’ groundbreaking C-Trap correlated optical tweezers–fluorescence microscope, scientists are now—for the first time—able to simultaneously and in real-time visualize individual molecules and measure mechanical properties of biomolecular complexes to reveal even greater detail. This revolutionary single-molecule visualization technology enables the understanding of biological processes to the smallest detail, which is critical for life science research and drug development.


The C-Trap™ instrument in action.

Credit: Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge



Publication Date

28 June 2018