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Posted: Aug 23, 2011
$3.6m NHGRI grant for DNA sequencing using protein nanopores
(Nanowerk News) Professor Mark Akeson (University of California, Santa Cruz) and his collaborators got awarded a $3.6 million, three year grant by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
Professor Akeson has pioneered techniques to control the movement of single stranded DNA (ssDNA) through protein nanopores. This is a key element of DNA 'Strand Sequencing', where DNA bases are identified in sequence as ssDNA is ratcheted through a nanopore. In December 2010, a team of researchers led by Professor Akeson and Dr. Kate Lieberman achieved a landmark publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society ("Processive Replication of Single DNA Molecules in a Nanopore Catalyzed by phi29 DNA Polymerase"). This showed continuous and controlled translocation of a ssDNA polymer through a protein nanopore by a DNA polymerase enzyme, the first time this had been demonstrated in conditions commensurate with a high throughput electronics-based DNA sequencing technology.
Oxford Nanopore and Professor Akeson collaborate on the development of DNA Strand Sequencing techniques for the Company's GridION platform. This partnership encompasses support of research in Professor Akeson's UCSC laboratories and a series of exclusive license agreements for related discoveries. The GridION system is designed to provide a scalable and versatile system for a range of nanopore sensing applications including Strand Sequencing and also the analysis of other molecules such as proteins.
"NHGRI and Oxford Nanopore have played leading roles in supporting DNA strand sequencing," said Professor Mark Akeson. "This has been crucial for our research community, and we in Santa Cruz are delighted to continue our collaboration with both groups".
"The NHGRI $1,000 genome programme recognises the role of technology innovation for the future of genomics, and we would like to extend our congratulations to Mark Akeson for this grant," said Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore. "We are proud to collaborate with Professor Mark Akeson in the translation of this exceptional science into an exceptional technology."
The award to Professor Mark Akeson and his collaborators is part of the NHGRI "$1,000 genome" technology programme, designed to reduce dramatically the cost of DNA sequencing and broaden the applications of genomic information in medical research and health care. Professor Akeson has received previous support under this programme including funds to support research into controlling large DNA fragments during nanopore sequencing ($1.1 million over two years).