Nanofluidics, Inc. сейчас она стала Pacific Biosciences, Inc.

CU spinoff, Nanofluidics, gets rights to gene-sequencing technique

By David Brand

Nanofluidics Inc., a small Ithaca concern spun off by Cornell in 2001, has obtained an exclusive worldwide license from the university to the key nano-optical technology detailed in the latest issue of Science magazine. The company, which is partly owned by Cornell, says the technology promises to facilitate the sequencing of an entire genome in hours, rather than years as with conventional techniques. The license start date was June 1, 2002.

"From a commercial perspective, we are very lucky to have the rights to this piece of technology," said Stephen Turner, chief scientist for Nanofluidics, who until 2001 was a postdoctoral associate at Cornell working with the research group of Harold Craighead, professor of applied and engineering physics and co-director of the Nanobiotechnology Center (NBTC). Craighead also is a founder of Nanofluidics.

"It gives us an excellent competitive advantage in the field of DNA sequencing," said Turner, an author of the Science article.

Nanofluidics was spun of from technology developed in NBTC to commercialize a suite of tools dealing with fluidics at the nanoscale. Fluidics is the technique of using nanotechnology to build microscopic silicon devices with features comparable in size to DNA, proteins and other biological molecules -- to count molecules, analyze them, separate them, perhaps even work with them one at a time.

Cornell owns the patents to the zero-mode waveguide technology discussed in the Science article. It was developed in a collaboration between Craighead's research group and that of Watt Webb, professor of applied and engineering physics. The license to the patent rights was awarded by Cornell Research Foundation.

"Our strategy is to eavesdrop on the naturally occurring mechanisms for reading DNA molecules while they do their work," said Craighead. "One of the principal challenges to this approach is finding a way to exclude unwanted background noise created by the biological building materials that must be present for this strategy to work. The zero-mode waveguide technology solves this problem for the first time."

Said Turner: "The collaboration between the Craighead and Webb research groups was particularly well-suited to this project. The Craighead group's expertise in leading-edge nanotechnology, coupled with the Webb group's long-standing leadership position in biological optics, created the ideal environment for this kind of advance to take place."

February 6, 2003

Stephen Turner, left, chief scientist for Nanofluidics and a former postdoctoral associate at Cornell, and Harold Craighead, professor of applied and engineering physics, co-director of the Nanobiotechnology Center and a founder of Nanofluidics, are shown in Craighead's Clark Hall lab.Frank DiMeo/University Photography