Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd (“Oxford Nanopore”) today announced the completion of an exclusive license agreement to develop nanopore science developed at the University of California, Santa Cruz (“UCSC”), in the laboratories of Professors David Deamer and Mark Akeson.
Oxford Nanopore will also fund research in the laboratories of Professors Deamer and Akeson, who have pioneered the science of using protein nanopores to analyse DNA molecules. Applications of the platform include single-molecule DNA sequencing and molecular sensing. Advancement of this technology is expected to benefit basic medical research and further the field of personalised medicine.
This follows the recent announcement of an agreement with Harvard University to in-license a broad range of nanopore technologies that included some discoveries from UCSC. The Company also holds agreements with other leading institutions in nanopore science including the University of Oxford, Texas A&M, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Together this places Oxford Nanopore in a unique and leading position for bringing first and future generations of nanopore technology to the market.
Technology Advisory Board
Oxford Nanopore also announced today that it has convened a group of the world’s leading nanopore researchers to form its Technical Advisory Board. This panel will include:
- The Company’s founder, Professor Hagan Bayley of the University of Oxford
- Professors Dan Branton and Jene Golovchenko of Harvard University
- Professors David Deamer and Mark Akeson of the University of California, Santa Cruz
- Professor Amit Meller of Boston University
Together, this group will give the Company unparalleled technical expertise in the development of Oxford Nanopore’s current and future nanopore sequencing technology. The Company’s first generation of nanopore sequencing, using BASETM technology, is poised to be the first label-free DNA sequencing system. By avoiding chemical labels and optical equipment to give a direct electrical readout that identifies DNA bases, a dramatic improvement in sequencing speed and cost would be expected.
“The science of nanopores is complex and challenging. We are very proud to have gathered a world-class panel of experts, from leading institutions in this field,” said Dr. Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore Technologies. “Our relationships with the Advisory Board members extend beyond pure technical advice; our support of research in the laboratories will further the science of nanopores. Oxford Nanopore now has the world’s best advisors and an excellent in-house development team of scientists and engineers. We are in a unique position to develop an early-to-market sequencing technology and improved versions in the future. A label-free approach to DNA sequencing would facilitate a transformation in genomics that could be likened to the broadband revolution.”
The expertise of this Technology Advisory Board encompasses many aspects of nanopore sequencing. This includes BASETM sequencing, the method currently in development at Oxford Nanopore, which combines a biological nanopore with a processive enzyme arrayed on a silicon chip. Future generations of nanopore sequencing technologies may use solid-state nanopores, or may analyse single stranded nucleic acids. Each member of the Oxford Nanopore Technology Advisory Board has written numerous pioneering scientific publications and made important inventions relating to these aspects of nanopores.
More powerful and affordable DNA sequencing technology is expected to drive a revolution in the understanding of the genetic cause of disease and the development of new, targeted treatments for disease. The interest in this area is illustrated by the much-publicised pursuit of a “$1000 genome.”
A label-free approach is expected to deliver truly powerful and affordable DNA analysis. Existing methods rely on expensive optical technologies, fluorescent labels and in some cases complex sample preparation, all of which is bypassed with nanopore sequencing. In addition, long read lengths would simplify the data re-assembly process and promise to provide routine access to previously challenging experiments.