Roche Licenses Nanopore Sequencing Technologies for Rapid, Affordable DNA Sequencing
11 Oct 2011

Roche and Arizona Technology Enterprises announce an agreement to license several technologies including specialized approaches for DNA base sensing and reading and build on an ongoing collaboration between Roche’s sequencing center, 454 Life Sciences, and IBM to develop and commercialize a single-molecule, nanopore DNA sequencer with the capacity to rapidly decode an individual’s complete genome for well below $1000. 

The licensed technologies offer novel approaches for reading the sequence of bases, or letters, in a single DNA molecule as it is passed through a nanopore, they were developed by Dr. Stuart Lindsay at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and Dr. Colin Nuckolls of the Columbia University Nanoscience Center for the development of a revolutionary DNA sequencing system. The team has demonstrated proof-of-concept, and is in the midst of making a third generation reader molecule that provides better discrimination between the DNA bases. The licensing agreement with Roche will help translate these discoveries into a commercial instrument.

“Our promising approach, which combines advances in physics, electronics and nanotechnology, eliminates the need for the use of a major cost of sequencing today – namely, the use of chemical reagents – to read an individual’s genome,” said Lindsay, an ASU Regents’ Professor and Director of the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Single Molecule Biophysics.

“We believe that the DNA reading technologies from the Biodesign Institute are the most advanced available, and will play an important role in our nanopore sequencing system currently under development,” says Thomas Schinecker, President of 454 Life Sciences, a Roche Company, “This will complement the DNA Transistor technology from our previously announced collaboration with IBM very well to form the core of a superior platform for extremely fast, very low-cost genome sequencing.”

The DNA Transistor technology, developed by IBM Research, slows and controls the movement of the DNA molecule as it threads through a microscopic nanopore in a silicon chip, while the newly licensed DNA reading technology can decode the bases of the DNA molecule as it passes through. Both technologies are centered on semiconductor-based nanopores, which have advantages over protein-based nanopores in terms of control, robustness, scalability, and manufacturability.

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