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Periodic Report Summary 1 - BIONANODIAMOND (The development of a diamond-based nanopore sensor for the detection and identification of DNA)

The detection and identification of specific sequences of DNA is a critical tool in many fields including early medical diagnostics, forensics and the rapid detection of bio-warfare agents. Despite the enormous potential, widespread use of DNA testing is not routine in any of these applications because of the high expense and the requirement for testing to be run by highly trained personnel working in a laboratory.
Nanopores have received recent attention as one potential route to solving the aforementioned problems. In nanopore measurements, DNA molecules are captured one-at-a-time by a protein nanopore that has internal dimensions similar to that of DNA. Ion flux through the pore is continuously measured, and from these measurements DNA can be identified entering and residing inside the pore. The precise change in ion flux is dependent on the structure of the DNA, and so, can be used to identify variation of the DNA inside the pore. The BIONANODIAMOND project seeks to exploit nanopore analysis of DNA to develop an assay capable of continuously and selectively detecting DNA of interest with very high sensitivity. This periodic report covers the period 06/04/2014 – 05/04/2016, which was conducted by the research fellow at the University of Utah, USA, and focused on the development of new nanopore techniques. In the return phase of the project, knowledge of the newly developed nanopore methods will be transferred back to Europe, and research will focus on integrating the nanopore method into a robust device by replacing the currently used glass support platforms with diamond materials, which are more stable and amenable to commercial production.
The research conducted thus far, during the outgoing phase, has resulted in significant new insights into DNA capture by nanopores, and by extension, the development of new methodologies to detect important structural changes in DNA that can lead to cancer and other diseases. Of particular note is the development of novel methodologies to detect mismatches and epigenetic markers in DNA at the single molecule level. This work could, with further development, form the basis of devices capable of detecting harmful variations in DNA. The commercial potential of the technology developed during the fellowship is evidenced by the recent filing of a U.S. provisional patent “METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DETECTING VARIATIONS IN DNA,” and publication of 6 papers in peer-review journals, including an article in top-level chemistry journal J. Am. Chem. Soc.


Julie Macpherson, (Professor)
Tel.: +44 2476 573886
Fax: +44 2476 524112


Life Sciences
Record Number: 187594 / Last updated on: 2016-08-22
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