Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Archon X-Prize Here We Come

This week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science an article entitled:
"Single-molecule mass spectrometry in solution using a solitary nanopore" was published.

Why is this mouthful of words important? Well, the future of genetic testing and sequencing is going to change and this is the likely direction. This pore, created by a bacteria (Staph Aureus) is only 1.5 nanometers. For appreciation, the human hair is 10,000 nanometers. What I think is ironic is that the enzyme used to create the pore actually gives staph its ability to really make us humans sick. The technique used is remarkable...I don't know if anyone has seen a tandem mass spec before. But it usually takes up the size of a lab table. This procedure could actually be accomplished on a microchip!!! This study is a proof of concept study done in Ohio and Brazil which demonstrates the fidelity of molecule size prediction. I am sure there will be more to follow.

In addition Harvard has gotten into the game of nanopore sequencing and will likely be the world leader. But this is no surpirse. They have been in this nanopore game since the early 2000s (did I just say that?) The rough estimate for launch in this project has just gone from 7 years to 3.
The biggest problem clinicians have with genetic testing is it often takes too long with some of the quickest results taking longer than 6 hours. Nanopore sequencing could give answers in less than 2 hours. This would allow a physician to dose medicines, change treatments, identify disease in a much more reasonable window of time.
Do I see nanopore sequencing being used in the ED? Not quite yet, but the pharmacogenomic implications for personalized medicine are huge!!!!
Thanks Jason for putting this on the Radar Screen back in March.


Keith Robison said...

Actually, the nanopore stuff goes back even further -- Branton &
Church were independently working on it in the early 90's, and Branton's group had the first publication in the field

Steve Murphy MD said...

Thanks for the link. I must have missed that in my pubmed review :(
Hope all is well