This site covered the work at Boston University to develop cheaper and faster DNA sequencing using solid state nanopores in Dec, 2009. There has been some more recent discussion and development of this work.
The technique uses electrical fields to feed long strands of DNA through four-nanometer-wide pores, much like threading a needle. The method uses sensitive electrical current measurements to detect single DNA molecules as they pass through the nanopores. The need for DNA amplification is reduced by 10,000 times.
Solid-state nanopores are sensors capable of analysing individual unlabelled DNA molecules in solution.
Licensing intellectual property from Boston University and Harvard University, Meller and his collaborators recently founded NobleGen Biosciences to develop and commercialize nanopore sequencing based on the new method.
The team’s findings show that nanopores, which can analyze extremely long DNA molecules with superior precision, are uniquely positioned to compete with current, third-generation DNA sequencing methods for cost, speed and accuracy. Unlike those approaches, the new nanopore method does not rely on enzymes whose activity limits the rate at which DNA sequences can be read.
“This puts us in the unique advantageous position of being able to claim that our sequencing method is as fast as the rapidly evolving photographic technologies,” said Meller. “We currently have the capability of reading out about 200 bases per second, which is already much faster than other commercial third-generation methods. This is only the starting point for us, and we expect to increase this rate by up to a factor of four in the next year.”
“I believe that it will take three to five years to bring cheap DNA sequencing to the medical marketplace, assuming an aggressive research and development program is in place,” said Meller.