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Bench-top system for detection and analysis of miRNA using solid-state nanopores

Project description

Your next wrist accessory may count more than the steps you take

Technologies to detect single molecules have progressed tremendously in recent years. Rather than looking at an ensemble average over time in which fluctuations and details are smoothed and potentially even averaged out, following the trajectories of single molecules provides exquisite spatial and temporal details critical to understanding pathways and processes. Harnessing the potential of single-molecule detection in an accurate and cost-effective portable device could revolutionise personalised medicine and diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of disease. Building on their innovations in nanopore sensing technology, machine learning and statistics, scientists working on the EU-funded PoreDetect project plan to deliver just such a system. Beyond the critically important realm of a wearable device for real-time tracking of disease markers, the technology could find important application in a handheld system for environmental monitoring.


The fast and reliable detection of single molecules holds the promise of revolutionising diagnostics, disease prevention as well as biological research by offering unprecedented resolution compared to bulk approaches. Based on work done as part of the ‘DesignerPore’ ERC consolidator grant (Nature Nanotechnology 2016) we will develop a benchtop device capable of detecting hundreds of molecular targets within tens of minutes. We will combine our recent development in nanopore sensing technology (JACS 2015) with machine-learning (Nano Letters 2018) and advanced statistics (arxiv 2019) to create a new versatile single molecule technique. Ultimately, our PoreDetect technology has the potential to become an integral part of handheld or wearable devices allowing real time tracking of disease markers for personalised medicine, bacterial infections or environmental contaminants. While the technique is not limited to the detection of certain molecules, for this proof-of-concept we aim to focus on sensing short oligonucleotides tens of base pairs in length, with immediate applications in the quantification of cell-free (cfRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) as cancer biomarkers.


Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Trinity lane the old schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)