Sygnature Discovery test-drives SPR-M

Our bioscientists have just completed the evaluation of an exciting new instrument at the interface of cell biology and biophysics, a Surface Plasmon Resonance Microscopy (SPR-M) system. At Sygnature Discovery, we are always looking out for new technology and techniques that will allow us to support our clients’ drug discovery projects more effectively.

We use SPR to look at binding interactions between compounds and a protein target. With the microscopy add-on we can look at the same interactions in a more physiological setting than traditional biophysical assays carried out with isolated and purified proteins. It combines cell culture and imaging techniques with biophysical assays, and enables the kinetics of these interactions to be studied in a whole-cell system. As it uses cells rather than purified proteins, it gives a much better picture of what is happening in real time in a physiological environment.

The new SPR-M200 instrument, developed by US-based company, Biosensing Instrument (and marketed by I & L Biosystems) is on a demo-tour of the UK, and Sygnature’s laboratories was its first port of call. While it was with us, we completed an evaluation study on a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR), neurotensin receptor 1 (NTS1). Using a cell line endogenously expressing NTS1, binding kinetics were determined for a number of small molecules and an antibody. These sets of data are comparable to literature-reported examples where stabilised, mutant and other non-physiological NTS1 constructs had to be developed.

While a high proportion of drug targets fall into the GPCR class, they are not the only surface membrane protein targets that would benefit from SPR-M studies; it is also applicable to other important targets, such as ion channels and transporter proteins. In each case, it allows a complete biophysical characterisation that yields powerful data about these targets in their cellular environment.

Jamie Ware, Senior Scientist at Sygnature Discovery, commented: “The ease of assay development and short lead time required to deliver a high quality binding assay for this challenging class of drug targets can have a profound impact on early-stage drug discovery, making SPR-M of great value to our drug discovery partners.”

Scott Pollack, Associate Director of Bioscience, added: “We like how SPR-M allows us to combine the best of two worlds: real time biophysical analysis of binding events, and their observation in a cellular, physiological setting. It really is a promising technique for the study of complex integral membrane proteins. Our next step will be to apply the technology to one of our clients’ projects.”

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss our capabilities in biophysics or drug discovery in general, then we would love to hear from you. You can get in touch via the contact form or by emailing us at


Latest News

View All

Sygnature Discovery Receives EcoVadis Award For Sustainable…

Sygnature Discovery goes for global industry recognition…

First patients dosed in Phase 1a clinical…

Sygnature Discovery Appoints Industry Leaders To Board…