Oxford Nanopore Technologies raised £17.4 million (roughly $27.73 million) in a financing round with new and existing investors. The funds will be used to further develop the company’s nanopore-based technology for the label-free analysis of single molecules.
Oxford Nanopore is a spin-out from the University of Oxford and a portfolio company of IP Group, which specializes in commercializing technologies developed by universities. Its platform is being developed initially for DNA sequencing applications, although, the company states that it also has a broad range of potential uses in areas including protein analysis for drug development and diagnostics.
Nanopore is currently focusing on the development of an arrayed, planar bilayer chip and reader system for DNA sequencing. This chip contains multiple microwells, each of which represents an individually addressable electronic channel, enabling a large number of nanopore measurements to be recorded in parallel.
The chip is combined with a modular nanopore biosensor and a universal low-cost instrument. For DNA sequencing a protein nanopore is combined with a processive enzyme which cleaves individual bases from a DNA strand. As DNA bases pass through a protein nanopore in sequence, they are identified by measuring characteristic disruptions in a current through the nanopore.
For applications in protein detection, the nanpore may be combined with a ligand for specific protein analysis, the company explains. The company projects that future generations of the technology may be able to interrogate whole single strands of DNA and use solid-state nanopores.
In February 2009, Nanopore reported the publication of a paper in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrating accurate and continuous identification of DNA bases using the nanopore technology.