Technology ID

Real-time Cellular Thermal Shift Assay and Analysis (RT-CETSA) for Research and Drug Discovery

Lead Inventor
Henderson, Mark (NCATS)
Talley, Daniel (NCATS)
Ronzetti, Michael (NCATS)
Baljinnyam, Bolormaa (NCATS)
Rai Bantukallu, Ganesha (NCATS)
Sanchez, Tino (NCATS)
Michael, Samuel (NCATS)
Voss, Ty (NCATS)
Owens, Ashley (NCATS)
Simeonov, Anton (NCATS)
Wallgren, Linus (NCATS)
Software / Apps
Research Materials
Consumer Products
Research Products
Research Equipment
Computational models/software
Lead IC
Scientists at NCATS have developed a novel Cellular Thermal Shift Assay (CETSA), named “Real-time CETSA” in which temperature-induced aggregation of proteins can be monitored in cells in real time across a range of compound concentrations and simultaneously across a temperature gradient in a high-throughput manner. Real-time CETSA streamlines the thermal shift assay and allows investigators to capture full aggregation profiles for every sample. A traditional CETSA assay can only be run at a single temperature (dose-response compounds) or a single compound concentration (across temperature range). The real-time CETSA approach allows both variables to be captured in a single experiment in high throughput, as protein aggregation is monitored in real-time over a temperature gradient. The real-time method also allows multiple different proteins (e.g., multiple members of a target class) to be examined in parallel, even if they have vastly different aggregation profiles. Importantly, RT-CETSA can be measured in intact living cells as well as cell lysates.

Additionally, the scientists have developed a novel method of analyzing the RE-CETSA data that uses a nonparametric analysis of goodness of fit tests between linear and log-logistic models across the entire melting curve, in contrast to the current single-parameter analysis. While traditional methods of analysis for CETSA data rely on single parameter measurements, such as Tagg (temperature of aggregation, or the midpoint of the sigmoidal thermal unfolding curve) and AUC (area under the curve of a sigmoidal fit), such analyses do not take into account the entire thermal curve that RT-CETSA generates. Using a nonparametric analysis of goodness of fit tests between linear and log-logistic models across the entire melting curve results in more sensitive and reproducible hit identification and full use of the RT-CETSA data. There is no current analysis method for RT-CETSA, differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF), or other such methods, where there is integration of goodness of fit nonparametric testing with concentration-response data.
Commercial Applications
  • High-throughput drug discovery in a cellular assay that is broadly applicable to a variety of targets
  • High-throughput screening for target engagement
  • High-throughput screening for drug repurposing
Competitive Advantages
The invention represents a revolutionary improvement over traditional CETSA assays and protocols. Additionally, the inventors have created unique tools (a thermally stable NanoLuciferase variant (thermNLuc), a working hardware prototype, and software tools for analysis that elevate the traditional assay into one that can be leveraged to screen multiple proteins at a variety of doses and over a broad temperature gradient – all in real time.

The drug discovery market has long embraced high-throughput screening; this technology and the unique tools developed may further the discovery of novel drugs and discovery of new uses for repurposed drugs.
Licensing Contact:
Erwin-Cohen, Rebecca