WARF: P04385US

Using Liquid Crystals to Detect Post-Translationally Modified Peptides


Nicholas Abbott, Brian Clare, Paul Bertics

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing devices and methods that use liquid crystals to detect post-translationally modified peptides.
OVERVIEWPost-translational modification of proteins provides a significant means of regulating biological processes. In particular, phosphorylation is a key factor in many aspects of cell signaling, cell cycle regulation and response to stress. Because compounds that modulate phosphorylation and other post-translational modifications may be useful in the treatment of diseases and conditions such as cancer, immunosuppression, retinopathy, rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegeneration, various methods for detecting post-translational modifications have been developed; however, simple and rapid methods that do not require complex instrumentation, radioactive labeling or other manipulation are still needed.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed devices and methods that use liquid crystals to distinguish between post-translationally modified peptides and unmodified peptides. A sample containing a post-translationally modified peptide, an unmodified peptide, or a mixture of both is bound to a substrate surface. The surface then is contacted with a recognition agent, such as an antibody, that specifically binds to or forms a complex with the post-translationally modified protein in the sample. A liquid crystal is contacted with the surface, and its orientation is observed. Disruptions in the uniform anchoring of the liquid crystal indicate the presence of post-translationally modified protein.
  • Drug screening
  • Detecting post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation
  • Provides a simple method of monitoring the phosphorylation status of proteins and peptides
  • Does not require radioactive labeling
  • Amenable to high throughput screening
  • Applicable to drug-screening and activity assays
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
The WARF Advantage

Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.