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."