TNA-based Probes for miRNA Detection


Sensitive, non-toxic, easy-to-use threose nucleic acid–based probes for cost-effective real-time detection of disease-associated target microRNAs in living cells, with potential for use in clinical tests.

  • TNA-based Probes for miRNA Detection
Research completion
Commercialisation opportunities
Technology licensing agreement
Problem addressed

miRNAs are considered as diagnostic biomarkers for early clinical diagnosis. The most critical obstacle to common miRNA detection methods are the insufficient accuracy and poor specificity. The invention is to develop a stable and sensitivea threose nucleic acid (TNA)-based probe for real-time detecting of target miRNAs.

  • The miRNA detection nanoplatform is composed of fluorophore-labeled TNA reporter strands partially hybridizing to quencher-labeled TNA oligonucleotides which are designed to be antisense to a target miRNA transcript via pair pairing.
  • The sequences of TNA can be designed to complement to the sequences of target miRNAs.
  • The platform are prepared by mixing TNA recognition strands and complementary Cy3-TNA reporter strands in a molar ratio of 1:1 and subsequent processing with a heating-cooling procedure from 95 oC to 4 oC in Tris-HCl buffer.
Key impact
  • TNA-based probe has protecting ability towards nuclease cleavage.
  • TNA-based probe is capable of visualizing and differentiating the target mircoRNAs native variance for dynamic real-time detection in living cells and in vivo.
  • TNA-based probe has no sequence limitations.
  • TNA-based probe is able to distinguish one or two nucleotides deletion, resulting in high specificity and selectivity.
  • 48th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva (IEIG) - Gold Medal
  • The research groups working in the area of biomaterials, analytical chemistry, biology, nucleic acid research, DNA/RNA nanotechnology should be interested in purchasing this invention.
  • The following analytical instrumentation development and manufacturing companies such as Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc. (USA/Singapore), Thermofisher (USA), AAT bioquest (USA), Miltenyi Biotec (USA), Qiagen (USA), abcam (USA), BGI (China), Agilent (USA), and Sigma-Aldrich (USA) will be interested in the invention as they are usually offering custom microarrays probes, molecular beacon probes, nucleic acid detection reagents, RNA imaging kits, qPCR primer assays, etc. and serving the areas of biotechnology, academic research, pharmaceutical development and clinical diagnostics. They have all required facilities and equipment to produce the invented products in large scale following our designed and optimized protocols.


  • Patent filed: Priority No. 63/256,640 IDF 1059
  • Patent No. 17/902,916
City University of Hong Kong (CityU)

As one of the fastest growing universities in the world over the past decade, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is recognised as a hub for innovation in research and professional education. CityU identifies solutions to critical global challenges by extending the frontiers of knowledge both within and beyond existing research paradigms.

The University’s highly qualified academics are drawn from all over the world, not only bringing a wealth of research and professional experience to the teaching programmes, but also contributing to the knowledge and technology advancement.