Date: 6th September 2019
CRISPR-Chip hit the news in March, as Kiana Aran and her team described the use of CRISPRs and a graphene biosensor as a powerful genetic diagnostic tool.
Able to detect genetic mutations such as sickle cell disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in the first instance, it opened up the possibility for much more.
The technology has been surrounded by excitement, which will be heightened by this week’s announcement leading to the commercialisation of The Genome Sensor™.
CRISPR-Chip combines the technology from two innovative companies based in San Diego, US, both of which are led or co-founded by Kiana Aran and Michael Heltzen. Nanosens Innovations provide the CRISPR-Cas9 nucleotide detecting technology, whilst Cardea Bio use their revolutionary graphene biosensor platform. The recent announcement from both companies to combine forces, would see Nanosens becoming a subsidiary of Cardea, and the hope is to accelerate the power of CRISPR-Chip into the genomic market. In this vein, they are looking for scientists (initially in Southern California) with an interest in testing out the technology to join the Early Access Program, providing them with crucial feedback and insights into practical uses.
To enable the quick identification of a chosen genetic mutation of interest, CRISPRs have been used for their genomic scanning capabilities. Whilst this usually results in Cas9 nuclease cleavage at specific sites, by using a ‘dead’ Cas9 the CRISPR complex merely scans and binds to its targets, precisely and rapidly.
The biosensor, using graphene rather than the standard silicone, acts as a transistor, improving stability in a biological setting. The transistor’s role is then to amplify electrical signals and enable switching between “on” and “off” states for digital applications.
The “on” or “off” state of the transistor is controlled by the binding interaction of molecules, in this case the CRISPR complex. When a target is found, the CRISPR binds to it, creating a small charge which the highly conductive graphene surface detects thereby triggering the switch. The results produce a readable signal that can be interpreted by a computer.
The Genome Sensor™ has been likened to googling the genome, unlocking our DNA and opening up endless possibilities.
What the technology behind the Genome Sensor™ does so beautifully is to marry two different fields of engineering into one visionary use. In effect converting biological molecules into digital elements. Whilst we are all familiar with the Internet of Things and the Lab of the Future, here we see the connectivity of biology directly to digital networks. Is this the start of the Internet of Biology era?
We will of course be watching out for innovative, ground breaking news to emerge from this exciting technology in the months to follow.
To read the press release follow the link Nanosens/Cardea