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Post-Synthetic Modification of Nucleic Acids by Inverse Diels-Alder Reaction

Ref-Nr: TA-P-870


This invention provides a method for an easy, economical and reliable post-synthetic modification of nucleic acids. 


Solid-phase chemistry approaches for sitedirected modifications are laborious and suffer from inherited drawbacks including limits on the length of synthesized oligonucleotides and on the variety of their incorporated chemical functionality. The “Click chemistry” of this invention is a high yielding and highly specific method to link molecules together under mild conditions.

The “Click reaction” used is the well-known Diels-Alder reaction with inverse electron demand (DARinv). In contrast to NHS-ester chemistry and copper-catalyzed azide−alkyne cycloaddition DARinv works efficiently at very low reactant concentrations, without the requirement of transition metals and much lower excesses of labeling reagent.

This is particularly relevant for potential applications of this coupling chemistry in cells, where high concentrations of copper are not tolerated. In comparison with other recent bioconjugation methods, the functional groups required for DARinv are easy to synthesize and incorporate into oligonucleotides. Amongst others there are several applications for this reaction:

  • imaging of targets inside of cells
  • in vivo imaging
  • delivery of diagnostics or therapeutics into cells  


  • Variety of application: labelling, drug discovery, material studies, biomolecule research
  • Attractive for conjugation of expensive and sensitive compounds
  • Suitable for simple and complex molecules
  • High yielding, easy to monitor, non-toxic reactions


DKFZ is currently seeking a commercial partner to develop this technology under an exclusive licence and/or collaboration agreement. 

Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum DKFZ

Dr. Christian Kliem
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg




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