The detection of specific sequences of DNA is pivotal in the diagnosis of a number of infectious diseases, such as chlamydia. It is also important in detecting and identifying potential bio-warfare agents. Current methods of DNA detection typically involve laboratory based sample analysis, which is slow and costly. This proposal seeks to address these drawbacks by developing an alternative approach based on nanopore unzipping. In this method the current-time transient is recorded for a single molecule of dsDNA as it denatures and passes through a protein pore. The current as the DNA blocks the pore, as well as the time taken for the dsDNA to 'unzip' (denature) is characteristic of the DNA sequence, length and the presence of any modifications. The proiten pore itself must be suspended in a lipid bilayer across a nm-diameter orifice that acts as a platform. Whilst identification of DNA targets with nanopore unzipping is expected to be quick and efficient, the platforms typically used for such measurements (mainly silicates) are fragile and lack bio-compatibility. This proposal seeks to bring the power of nanopore unzipping outside of the laboratory through the development of a robust, ultra-stable, platform constructed from diamond. The research conducted during this proposal could lead to a commercially viable device capable of detecting and identifying DNA at the point need, for example in medical diagnostics in a hospital or identifying potential bio-warfare agents in the field of operation.
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