Firms are working to develop a commercial system based on DNA transistor technology.

Roche and IBM are teaming up to develop a nanopore-based sequencing platform that will reduce the cost of whole human genome sequencing to $100 to $1,000 per genome. The  platform will be based on IBM’s DNA transistor technology, which essentially reads individual molecules of DNA as the string is fed through a nanopore in a silicon chip. The firm first released details of the technology back in September 2009.

As part of Roche and IBM’s collaboration to commercialize the platform Roche will continue development at IBM and will also offer the additional resources and expertise of its 454 Life Sciences sequencing subsidiary. Roche will have rights to develop and market all products based on nanopore sequencing IP.

“By merging computational biology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology skills, we are moving closer to producing a system that can quickly and accurately translate DNA into medically relevant genetic information,” comments Ajay Royyuru, senior manager of computational biology at IBM Research. “The challenge of all nanopore-based sequencing technologies is to slow and control the motion of the DNA through the nanopore. We are developing the technology to achieve this so that the reader can accurately decode the DNA sequence.”

The Roche-IBM partnership partnership follows just weeks after Illumina confirmed it was slashing the cost of individual genome sequencing from $48,000 to $19,500, or down to just $9,500 per genome for patients who would clinically benefit from having their genome sequenced.

The Illumina price-cutting annoucement coincided with Life Technologies reporting on the establishment of a collaborative initiative aimed at determining whether whole-genome sequencing can help to guide treatment decisions for a range of difficult-to-treat cancers. 

Life Technologies is setting up the Genomic Cancer Care Alliance in collaboration with the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Scripps Genomic Medicine, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, and US Oncology, which will serve as the contract-research and site-management organization for the study.

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