Applied Bio, Eagle to collaborate

Companies to co-develop detection device for protein and DNA analysis.

Lloyd Dunlap
FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Applied Biosystems Group and Boulder, Colo.-based Eagle Research and Development LLC recently announced a collaboration to further develop a single-mole­cule detection device invented by Eagle. As part of the agreement, Applied Biosystems received an exclusive two-year option to license the technology. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Eagle's patented technology, currently in prototype stage, identifies and quantifies mol­ecules based on their unique electronic charge signatures. The miniature silicon device consists of an array of nano­pores, with each nanopore con­taining embedded semiconduc­tors or field-effect transistors (FETs). 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.
"A rapid, cost-effective and por­table molecular detection device has the potential to advance a wide-range of important life sci­ence applications," notes Dennis Gilbert, CSO of Applied Biosystems. "While it is still in early stages, we are excited about exploring this technology's ability to achieve these goals by identifying molecules directly by electronic charge signatures."
Eagle claims their device is unique because it measures a mole­cule's three-dimensional electronic charge profile directly, as opposed to measuring electronic current or conductance. Further, it does so without the use of fluorescent or other labels, thermal cycling or optics. Compared to other nano­pore-based technologies for mea­suring molecules using electronic signals, the Eagle approach is said to achieve a 1,000-fold higher sen­sitivity as a result of the embedded FETs.
"Background currents which exist in the picoamp range are far less problematic for this device, which measures molecular charg­es in the nanoamp range, at least 1,000-fold above background" notes Timothy Geiser, Applied Biosystems' director, strategy and business development.
"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," adds Jon Sauer, founder of Eagle. "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."
Applied Biosystems intends to focus initial development support and feasibility testing for appli­cations in protein identification and detection of protein-binding events. Although the company foresees significant synergies with protein detection technologies it currently has under development, it believes the Eagle device will be developed primarily as a stand-alone technology.

Lloyd Dunlap

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