Science and Engineering

University of Colorado, Boulder

Prashant Nagpal, Anushree Chatterjee
Boulder, CO
$1,000,000
December 2014

This project will develop a novel, single-molecule quantum sequencing technique, using unique electronic and optical fingerprints, to directly determine the sequence of single molecules of RNA, DNA and other biomolecules.  It will also determine molecular structure and relate it to biological activity, simultaneously detecting any single nucleotide modifications that can result in gene silencing.  The sequences and structure of nucleic acids in bio-macromolecules such as DNA and RNA define biological function and control the downstream expression of genes, proteins, and other cell-regulatory functions.  Small variations in this genetic coding in individual cells may lead to mutations, which can play a key role in physiology.  Current DNA sequencing techniques rely on enzymatic amplification of samples and provide a statistically significant ensemble-averaged sequence, which lacks both information vital to understanding their function and critical insights for medical intervention.  The proposed method will enable sequencing rare biomolecule species (such as circulating tumor cells, free DNA in blood, and drug- resistant pathogens); answering important biological questions on genetic encoding (such as the role of telomerase in aging and cancer); identifying the molecular markers responsible for diseases, and developing a versatile tool for studies in personalized medicine and gene therapy.

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