One of the main aims within our project was to develop a detection method to detect the presence of specific RNA sequences without the use of any complicated laboratory equipment. Furthermore, this method should be cheap and widely available to everyone. We indeed succeeded in developing such a method and this page is dedicated to describe how this novel measurement method was implemented in our project. It is based on structures called 'coacervates'.

Coacervates are polymer-rich regions in solutions of mutually attractive polymers. The process of mutually attractive polymers phase-separating into a polymer-rich and polymer-poor phase is known as coacervation. This process can under some circumstances be observed by the naked eye, as coacervates generally cause solutions to be more turbid. A key physical property of coacervates is that they require polymers of a certain length to form. In general, only polymers that are ‘long enough’ form coacervates.

Figure 1: Schematic description of coacervation. Long, mutually attractive polymers can phase separate into dense, polymer-rich regions known as coacervates, and a polymer-poor region consisting of the solvent.

The underlying reason for this can be explained theoretically and experimentally. These latter facts directly imply that (changes in) polymer length can be visualized to the naked eye, which we utilized to design a novel detection method coined CINDY Seq. However, as we will argue in greater detail below, the method has potential to serve as a far broader method to characterize existing and future BioBricks, and the activity of many enzymes that show synthesis or degradation of any (coacervating) polymer.