QuantuMDx, while still in ‘semi-stealth mode’, is developing handheld sequencing instruments based on microfluidic channels and nanowires.
The first instrument they will likely launch is the Q-POC, a handheld clinical short read sequencer. The system will contain a series of nanowires to which template DNA is attached. DNA bases are then read via a form of sequencing-by-synthesis, but rather than detecting fluorescence or chemiluminescence, the addition of individual bases creates a negative charge that can be detected by the nanowire. The incorporated nucleotides, which are introduced one at a time, contain a reporter moiety that aids in detection and also acts as a reversible terminator, meaning this technology shouldn’t suffer unduly from homopolymer errors. Because the distance over which the charge can be detected by the nanowire is relatively short, read lengths will likely be limited to around 50 bases.
Status: prototype testing
Projected commercial availability: early 2014
The second instrument will be the Q-SEC, and will be designed more for sequencing long stretches of DNA. Like the Q-POC, it will use nanowires to generate sequencing data. However, rather than using SBS chemistry, the nanowires will be functionalized to detect individual bases in strands of native DNA as they flow through microfluidic channels. The initial system will have as many as 1000 nanowires in each channel, allowing for the rapid generation of long reads.
Status: early prototype testing
Projected commercial availability: unknown
Key Papers: Technology description: Zheng, G et al. (2005) Multiplexed electrical detection of cancer markers with nanowire sensor arrays. Nat Biotechnology 23(10):1294-1301
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