NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Applied Biosystems continues its next-generation sequencing push with a new R&D alliance with Eagle Research and Development, a Boulder Colo.-based company specializing in biomolecular analysis, ABI said today.
The companies struck a two-year agreement during which ABI will help Eagle develop its single molecule-detection device. Still in the prototype phase, the technology identifies and quantifies molecules by their “unique electronic charge signatures.” ABI has the option of licensing the technology during that time.
ABI said it believes the technology could have “significant implications for advancing personalized medicine” based on its “potential for faster, more efficient and less expensive protein and nucleic acid identification, protein-protein and protein/small molecule interaction measurements, and DNA sequencing.”
Eagle won a two-year research grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2002 to show that its DNA-detection method, which uses a nanopore-based device.
Eagle’s platform comprises an array of nanopores with each nanopore containing embedded semiconductors or field-effect transistors. As single molecules are driven through a nanopore by a voltage differential, the three-dimensional charge profile of a molecule is measured by the FETs, enabling each molecule in the sample to be uniquely identified and precisely quantified.
"This technology offers the prospect to eventually correlate DNA and its expressed proteins with specific disease states using an inexpensive, disposable and portable device, which could be a boon for clinical research," Jon Sauer, founder of Eagle Research and Development, said in a statement.
"For example, the device has the potential to enable development of exquisitely targeted treatments using sequencing data both from a patient and from the disease-causing pathogen,” he said.
The statement said Eagle’s device measures a molecule's three-dimensional electronic charge profile directly, as opposed to measuring electronic current or conductance. It does not require fluorescent or other labels, thermal cycling, or optics.
“Compared to other nanopore-based technologies for measuring molecules using electronic signals, the Eagle approach achieves a 1,000-fold higher sensitivity as a result of the FETs embedded in the nanopores,” ABI’s statement said.
ABI chief scientific officer Dennis Gilbert said that although the platform “is still in early stages, we are excited about exploring this technology's ability to … [identify] molecules directly by electronic charge signatures, a capability which could also represent the future of label-free molecule detection."
ABI said it intends to focus initial development support and feasibility testing for applications in protein identification and detection of protein-binding events. Provided the ability to electronically profile the individual four nucleotides in DNA is further developed, ABI “believes the Eagle technology could potentially be the first to enable the identification and measurement of both DNA and proteins in a single sample at the same time.”
The alliance is the latest example of ABI siding with companies whose technologies have next-gen sequencing possibilities. In July 2006, the company acquired Agencourt Personal Genomics for $120 million for its sequencing by stepwise ligation technology.
In December 2005, ABI made an investment in VisiGen Biotechnologies for its real-time single-molecule sequencing technology.