Researchers, led by University of Washington (UW) physicist Jens Gundlach, have developed a nanopore sequencing technology that is capable of reading the sequence of a single DNA molecule. In this system, the DNA is pulled through a nanopore while an ion current through the pore electronically reads the DNA's sequence. The nanopore is an engineered protein developed specifically for DNA sequencing by Gundlach's team in collaboration with Michael Niederweis, a microbiologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). This technology has led to a patent-licensing deal between UW and Illumina, Inc.
The licensing deal gives San Diego-based Illumina, Inc., developer of integrated systems for genetic variation analysis, exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market the nanopore DNA sequencing technology that is based on the engineered pore.
"Many companies and universities are looking at nanopore technology as one way to realize that potential, but the technology developed by Drs. Gundlach and Niederweis is among the most promising," said Christian Henry, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Illumina's Genomics Solutions business.
The nanopore was created by genetically engineering a protein pore from a mycobacterium smegmatis. The pore has an opening 1 billionth of a meter in size, just large enough for a single DNA strand to pass through, but needed to be modified to become useful for this sequencing technology.
Last year Gundlach's team published a study in Nature Biotechnology that found the combination of a genetically altered M. smegmatis pore and DNA polymerase could be used to directly determine DNA sequences using just single DNA molecules. The polymerase serves as a molecular motor that moves a DNA strand through the pore one nucleotide at a time. Their study reported a successful demonstration of this new technique using six different strands of DNA. The results corresponded to the already known DNA sequen
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UW Center for Commercialization (UW C4C)