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Roche Licenses Technology from Biodesign Institute, Columbia for Development of New Sequencing Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche is licensing technology from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and the Columbia University Nanoscience Center for the development of a new DNA sequencing system, Roche and the Arizona Technology Enterprises announced today.

The technologies being licensed were developed by Stuart Lindsay at the Biodesign Institute and Colin Nuckolls from Columbia and include "specialized approaches" for DNA base sensing and reading.

They also build on an ongoing collaboration between Roche, its sequencing technologies subsidiary 454 Life Sciences, and IBM to develop a single-molecule, nanopore-based technology that will directly read and sequence human DNA for "well below $1,000."

IBM's DNA Transistor technology slows and controls DNA molecules as they move through a nanopore in a silicon chip. The technologies being licensed today decode the bases of the DNA as it passes through the chip. Roche and Arizona Technology Enterprises — the tech transfer arm of ASU— said that both technologies are centered on semiconductor-based nanopores, "which have advantages over protein-based nanopores in terms of control, robustness, scalability, and manufacturability."

Lindsay, a professor at ASU and director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics, said that the method he has developed combines advances in physics, electronics, and nanotechnology and eliminates the need for chemical reagents, a major cost of sequencing, to read a genome.

Linday and his team will also receive sponsored research funding as part of the deal in order to move the technology towards commercialization.

Further financial and other terms were not disclosed.

Thomas Schinecker, president of 454, said in a statement that Lindsay's DNA reading technologies "are the most advanced available and will play an important role in our nanopore sequencing system currently under development. This will complement the DNA Transistor Technology … very well to form the core of a superior platform for extremely fast, very low-cost genome sequencing."

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