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Oxford Nanopore collaborators win $1.8 million in NIH grants

Wed 14th October 2009

Oxford Nanopore Technologies congratulates our collaborators Professor Mark Akeson and Professor David Deamer of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) on receiving a grant of $1.1 million, and Professor Jene Golovchenko of the University of Harvard on receiving $745,000 following on from a previous grant of $6.5 million. These grants were made under the US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) "$1,000 Genome Sequencing Technology Development" grant programme.

Oxford Nanopore is developing a platform technology for the direct electrical analysis of single molecules. The Company's lead application is DNA sequencing, however the platform may also be developed for the analysis of other analytes.  In 2008 Oxford Nanopore announced agreements with Harvard and UCSC whereby Oxford Nanopore exclusively licensed nanopore sensing methods that had been developed at the institutions and also agreed to fund further research in their laboratories.  This augmented the existing relationship with the University of Oxford through founder Professor Hagan Bayley and the Company's internal expertise and intellectual property.

Oxford Nanopore's first generation of nanopore based DNA sequencing technology uses a processive enzyme to cleave individual bases from a DNA strand.  As DNA bases pass through a protein nanopore in sequence, they are identified by measuring characteristic disruptions in a current through the nanopore.

An iteration of this method may identify DNA bases on a long, intact strand of DNA as it passes through the nanopore.   A key challenge for the development of this technology is the speed at which DNA passes through the pore; typically this is too fast to identify individual DNA bases on a strand.  Professors Deamer and Akeson at UCSC have been developing a method of controlling the passage of DNA using a polymerase enzyme coupled with the nanopore so that this method might be developed into an industrial DNA sequencing system.

A further development in nanopore sequencing technology would be the creation of nanopores from man made materials, called "solid-state" nanopores.  This technology would be expected to deliver a further step-change in improved manufacturing costs and sequencing performance.  Professor Jene Golovchenko's Harvard laboratory has pioneered solid state nanopore research for many years, with collaborator and nanopore pioneer Professor Dan Branton.

Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore Technologies, said: "We would like to congratulate Professors Akeson, Deamer and Golovchenko for these well-deserved grants.  The UCSC lab is recognised as having world-leading expertise in the control of DNA molecules in protein nanopore sensing, which is a fundamental challenge for the second generation of nanopore sequencing technology.  Researchers in the Harvard lab are recognised as the pioneers of solid-state nanopores, which is the ultimate goal for nanopore sequencing.  We are proud to be working with these talented and dedicated teams on our current and future generations of nanopore technology."

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Notes to Editors

Oxford Nanopore Technologies is developing a platform technology for the direct electrical analysis of single molecules. The lead application is DNA sequencing but the platform may also be developed for other analytes including proteins and small molecules such as metabolites.  

In 2008 Oxford Nanopore announced the creation of a Technology Advisory Board and collaborations with the world's leading nanopore researchers, responsible for the earliest and ongoing nanopore discoveries and generation of a broad patent portfolio.  As a result, Oxford Nanopore has rights around the world to fundamental patents and patent applications in a comprehensive range of nanopore sensing technologies, spanning both biological and solid-state technology.

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