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Base4, Hitachi Developing Single-molecule, Nanopore-based Sequencer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Base4 Innovation and Hitachi High-Technologies today announced a collaboration to develop a long read-length, single-molecule, nanopore-based DNA sequencing instrument.

The new system will be based on technology developed by Cambridge, UK-headquartered Base4 and instrumentation developed by Hitachi. The technology behind it is based on the concept of passing a single strand of DNA through a nanometer scale pore and reading the sequence directly in the process.

Privately owned Base4, the partners said, has developed a method of increasing the signal from the single molecule passing through the pore by using laser light enhanced by gold structures. The technology, they added, allows the signal to be read from unlabeled DNA, minimizing sample preparation.

While nanopores have typically been developed using biological structures such as modified proteins, Base4's technology relies on materials used in semiconductor manufacturing, which '"should allow us to manufacture our devices using existing wafer-scale production techniques and to minimize costs accordingly," the company said on its website.

It and Hitachi said that key features of the new system will include the ability to directly read DNA modifications, such as methylation, and the ability to achieve long read-lengths. Base4 Founder and CEO Cameron Frayling said that it will take an anticipated three years to develop the technology. Development work will occur in Cambridge and in Hitachi's facility in Hitachinaka-shi, Japan.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Base4 was founded in 2007 and has raised £6 million ($9 million) in private and institutional investments, and grant funding, according to its website.