Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development (Harvard) and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd (Oxford Nanopore) have announced an agreement to progress nanopore science by integrating Harvard discoveries with technology in development at Oxford Nanopore.
Under the terms of this agreement with Harvard, Oxford Nanopore has exclusive rights to develop and commercialize a number of nanopore technological breakthroughs developed in the laboratories of three investigators at Harvard and their collaborators at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the US Department of Commerce.
The investigators include: Professors Daniel Branton, George Church and Jene Golovchenko at Harvard; David Deamer and Mark Akeson at UCSC and John Kasianowicz at NIST.
These academics have pioneered the research of DNA translocation through nanopores and the potential for DNA sequencing using this method. This is complementary to the work of Professor Hagan Bayley, the founder of Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Professor Bayley pioneered the field of nanopores as sensors of single molecules, with a specific focus on the identification of DNA bases.
Oxford Nanopore will also support fundamental nanopore research at Harvard, facilitating further advancement of the field and generating opportunities for further evolutions of nanopore sequencing technology.
Oxford Nanopore is developing nanopores for use in DNA sequencing and the analysis of other molecules. A nanopore is a small hole; this inner diameter is small enough to be used in the direct identification of many single molecules, without using chemical labels. This technology has the potential to deliver a dramatic reduction in the cost and speed of DNA sequencing, benefiting basic medical research and further the field of personalized medicine.
A dramatic improvement in sequencing technology would have a profound effect on life science and medical research, furthering genome research and the development of new medical diagnostics, treatments and strategies. There are many additional applications of sequencing, within the fields of defense, energy and agriculture.
The single molecule analysis platform being developed at Oxford Nanopore is label-free, and is therefore positioned to deliver a step-change in the power and cost of DNA sequencing.
While current technologies rely on expensive fluorescent labels, optical equipment for signal detection and informatics to translate image data into sequence data, nanopores bypass the optical detection by providing a direct electrical recording of DNA base identification. The method is highly scalable through silicon chip arrays.